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Gift of 

With the aid of the 



Jitters of 


Phot. Henri Martinie, Paris 

Rainer Maria Rilke 

J^etters of 



1910 1926 

Translated by 





Copyright, 1947, 1948, by 


New York, N. Y. 

-First Edition 

Note: Certain of the letters in this 
volume were first printed in The 
Kenyan Review, Autumn, 1947 






NOTES 398 


INDEX 453 



(from Sails. Rainer Maria Rilkes Schweiaer Jahre) 

Facing page 


(from Philobiblon, 1935) 


(from Dichtung und Volkstum, 1936) 


(from Hommage des ecrivains Strangers a Paul VaUry) 


(from Inselschiff, Christmas, 1936) 


As IN the preceding volume of LETTERS: 1892-1910, all these 
letters, unless otherwise indicated in the Notes, have been taken 
from the two editions of the general collection of Rilke's 
LETTERS, edited by his daughter and son-in-law, Ruth Sieber- 
Rilke and the late Carl Sieber, and published by Insel-Verlag. 

Again we are deeply indebted to Herbert Steiner for his 
invaluable assistance. 


THE present volume of letters covers the years from the completion 
of The Notebooks of Make Laurids Brigge to Rilke's death in De- 
cember 1926, nearly five years after he had finished the Duino Elegies 
and the Sonnets to Orpheus, his last big works. The period falls into 
four distinct divisions: the years before the first World War, when a 
harrowing reaction from the psychological strain of writing the 
Make drove Rilke in mounting desperation to country after coun- 
try, to person after person; the wartime period itself, in which the 
flare-up of excited, almost exalted response quickly gave way to a 
persisting dismay at the phenomenon of war, what he himself calls 
the "whole sad man-made complication"; the search in Switzerland, 
from 1919 to 1921, for congenial surroundings in which to bring to 
their conclusion the long-despaired-of Elegies; and finally, the end of 
the quest, Muzot, which was to be his home for the brief remainder 
of his days. So much of what is generally known of the outer events 
and inner currents of Rilke's lire emerges directly from the letters 
themselves that little need be added. 

Letters continued to be as necessary to him both artistically and 
humanly, as they had been in his youth. They remained always "a 
kind of transition from the verbal and communicating to the writing 
of work which is no longer addressed to any single individual." 

There is a great increase in the number of his correspondents. The 
letters to Clara are fewer now and their importance far less. To Lou 
Andreas-Salome, on the other hand, he continued to speak most easily 
and, to the end, it was to her that he turned in moments of crisis. 
Other major relationships were those with Princess Marie von Thurn 
und Taxis-Hohenlohe and, in the last years, with Frau Nanny Wun- 
derly-Volkart. Unfortunately the important letters to the latter are 
at present available only in fragmentary form unsuitable for inclusion 

The greatest difference between this second volume of correspond- 
ence and its predecessor is the subtle but quite conscious shift in 
Rilke's point of view, a shift to which attention has already been 
called in the introduction to the first volume and which is best ex- 
pressed in the poem "Turning" included in the present pages. Having 
schooled his eye to see with a painter's accuracy, he was now able to 
bring this acquired objectivity to bear on his inner vision. As a re- 
sult, there are far fewer visually descriptive passages and a greater 
preoccupation with psychological and spiritual insights. This is not 


to say, however, that the letters become dry or abstract. Rilke was 
above all a poet, constantly seeking more and more precise equiva- 
lents for his inner experience in the concrete images of his expression. 

One of the most significant indications of Rilke's maturity is the 
growth of his capacity to learn and to be nourished from a wider 
variety of experience. No one interest or personality holds the cen- 
tral focus here in the way Rodin did in the earlier years. As he grew 
older, he enriched his art and his life from many sources: from places 
Venice, Egypt, Spain, the Valais; from the ideas of Kassner and 
Schuler; from a deeply experienced painting of Picasso; from the 
art of Paul Valery; the list could never be complete, for with his 
feeling of love and reverence for life Rilke wanted nothing so much 
as to become more and more open to all it might bring. 

Although during this last third of his life Rilke passed through 
times of extreme suffering, there are in these letters many posi- 
tive and ringing affirmations such as were later to receive definitive 
artistic expression in the Elegies and the Sonnets. "It is certain that 
the divinest consolation is contained in humanity itself ", he was 
able to write in the midst of the first World War; "we would not be 
able to do much with the consolation of a god; only that our eye 
would have to be a trace more seeing, our ear more receptive, the 
taste of a fruit would have to penetrate us more completely, we 
would have to endure more odor, and in touching and being touched 
be more aware and less forgetful : in order promptly to absorb 
out of our immediate experiences consolations that would be more 
convincing, more true than all the suffering that can ever shake us 
to our very depths." 

The justly famous letters from Muzot form the richest portion of 
the entire correspondence. Many are written to young people Rilke 
did not know and, as in the earlier instance of the Letters to a Young 
Poet, there is in them a tone of authority and eloquence one rarely 
finds elsewhere. The completion of the Elegies resolved the frustra- 
tions of many years and freed their author's mind for a new perspec- 
tive on his own poetry. In response to professional inquiries regard- 
ing his work he now returned long, careful commentaries and eluci- 
dations that are an invaluable contribution to the understanding of 
his art. Almost all the letters of this time are imbued with a special 
quality that can come only with a sense of fulfillment, the same poise 
of spirit that informs the verses he chose for his epitaph: 

Rose, oh pure contradiction, desire 
to be no one's sleep beneath so many 

The Jitters 

n * 3 

To Clara Rilke Venice, May 5, 1910 

On the Day of Ascension, of the "Sensa," formerly the 
great day of the marriage of Venice with the sea. 

It is indeed true ... I do not write at all, my not writing is 
taking on dimensions. But, look, of what importance is my thin 
experience (which persists) beside all the intense things that are 
befalling you? It would be like conversation, if I wanted to tell 
anything; since I have been underway, I do not know how to let 
anything important happen to me. I hope the insight will follow, 
once I am back in Paris, that after all something or other has taken 
place inside a mon insu. The only thing that keeps me here is the 
possibility of discovering in the libraries still a few particulars 
for the life of Carlo Zeno. But in these books and catalogues I am 
just as hopelessly inept as when I have to look for a clover leaf or 
strawberries. People treat me as if I were a scholar, lay everything 
before me, but I sit on the folios just like a cat who merely con- 
ceals with her being there what is in them, and at most is pleasantly 
aware of the novelty of her situation. And if the lagoon below 
beats and beats again on the old marble foundations, my whole 
attention goes toward that noise, as if more were to be learned 
from it than from the old texts. 

With that really everything about me has been said. At Duino 
there were friendly days, the understanding with the Princess, 
which I instantly recognized in a general way in Paris, proved 
warm in detail . . . With Kassner I had three more days there, 
then he had to leave; but he will now live in Paris for a time. He is 
a little like an examination, and for me it was not the time for pass- 
ing; I flunked in a gentle sympathetic way at this examination, I 
mean just in the particular subjects. On the whole, of course, it 
couldn't help being all right. I am happy to have him in Paris in 



any case. He is something sure, true, really eminently serious. 
One can test every word against his listening, but for that reason 
one also doubts every word of one's own. I remember from the 
physics class that gold never looked less like gold than when one 
was examining it for the streak it leaves on the touchstone. 

Goodbye, dear, be indulgent with me for returning so little for 
so much. I have no more and remain in debt . . . 


To Princess Marie von Thurn 
und Taxis-Hohenlohe Schloss Janowic 

Selcan district, Bohemia 
August 30, 1910 

I am all absorbed in picturing how this letter will reach you in 
Duino; I see your little realm up there, the world you are at home 
in, dense with memories, with its window on the very great; 
there is something definitive in this arrangement of drawing the 
near very near, so that the distance may be alone with itself. What 
is close by means much, and the infinite in this way becomes sin- 
gularly clear, free of meaning, a pure depth, an inexhaustible store 
of spiritually usable interspace. 

But well as I can imagine all that, I do catch myself hoping in 
every mail for a card from you, with just this much, that your trip 
did you good and that you found the days down there the way 
you like them. Is the Prince with you, and how is Prince Pasha? 
You must sometimes feel how much I am inwardly continuing 
the Lautschin life. Prague interrupted me for a few days, I arrived 
here almost ill, but now everything is going along, yes, I can really 
say things are somehow going along. Lautschin was a real water- 
shed, now everything is flowing off in another way, I don't know 
whither, I don't see ahead, I am wholly taken up by springs being 
suddenly there that are making the most of the new declivity and 
driving onward. That is not to be understood at all as applying to 
my work, which is resting, but inside my life something is stirring, 
my soul is about to learn something, it is beginning with new nidi- 


ments, and to me the best thing in all this is to see it so modest. 
Perhaps I shall now learn to become a little human; hitherto my art 
has really come into being at the cost of my insisting on nothing 
but things; that was a stubbornness, I fear, an arrogance too, dear 
Heaven, and it must have been a tremendous greediness, I shudder 
a little when I think of all the violence I put through in Make 
Laurids, how I landed with him back of everything in consistent 
despair, back of death in a way, so that nothing more was possible, 
not even dying. I believe no one has ever experienced more clearly 
how very much art goes against Nature; it is the most passionate 
inversion in the world, the road back from the infinite, on which 
all decent things come to meet one; now one sees them full size, 
their faces draw near, their movement gains detail : yes, but 
who is one then that one may do it, that one should take this di- 
rection against them all, this eternal re-turning with which one 
deceives them, letting them believe that one has already arrived 
somewhere, at some end, and now has leisure to go back? 

As for the landscape, it is much simpler here than in Lautschin, 
simple-minded almost, all kinds of sentiment and melancholy have 
got into the flowers, the blue cornflowers by the roadside want to 
look right into one's eyes like domestic animals, and the industri- 
ous apples want to be praised. 

It is touching to see the three young orphaned children, the 
way they take their life, that must now be the whole of life, in 
hand, each in his way and yet in such charming considerateness 
and concord. I am by far the oldest in the house, I almost have 
trouble mastering the dignifiedness that is unfolding in me. Luck- 
ily there is so much superiority in the smallest and simplest of their 
ways, not to mention that which comes spontaneously even from 
the youngest. But shortly I want to read Kassner aloud to the 
children. Now I am reading Kierkegaard, it is magnificent, real 
magnificence, never has he moved me so. 

A thousand greetings to you and yours, Princess, I often miss 
an hour of talk, a letter is no substitute at all 


To Countess Lili Kanitz-Menar Schloss Janowic, 

Selcan district, Bohemia 
September 7, 1910 

You shall not wait too long, just as I am I will at least thank you 
for your good and warm letter, which did not reach me here until 
three days ago. Our dear Make has given you pleasure and has 
touched you deeply, yes, that he certainly was bound to do, that 
was the least he could do for you who kept believing in him and 
expected much of him. As for me, I draw a deep breath whenever 
I think that this book is in existence, indeed it had to exist, I was 
so indescribably committed to it, choice I had none. But now I 
feel a little like Raskolnikov after the deed, I don't know at all 
what is to come now, and I even shudder a little when I consider 
that I have written this book; by what force, I ask myself, by what 
right, I would almost like to ask. 

I sat, as was my program, in Paris; I wanted to hold myself to 
my work, as every summer; it was not to be done, I had to give 
in, partly it was my health that demanded it, and then simply this: 
that Make was a big, big division; it was a quite theoretical and 
pedantic idea simply to go on writing as if nothing had happened. 
After all, everything, so to speak, had happened. . . . 

To Clara Rilke 77 rue de Varenne, Paris 

November 18, 1910 

... I thank you, the volumes of the Arabian Nights arrived 
very opportunely, everything was still hanging fire, only now 
is it as good as certain that I will be in Algiers the beginning of 
next week, rue Michelet, Hotel Saint-Georges. I have been in- 
vited to go along on a lovely trip that will take me through Tunis, 
perhaps on to Egypt, about that I will write as things develop. It 
is not entirely easy for me to go away from here, although Paris 
during this time has been by no means easy for me; it is indeed 

just by the difficult that one always recognizes it again and by 
the difficult that one is so strongly bound to it. And yet I feel 
distinctly that this time I must travel, just as far as possible. I like 
the thought that I am leaving my little apartment behind lying 
open, the books are there, how will one return? 

The Seine is rising, it is up to the armpits of the bridges, in the 
evening it is uncanny, this broad near-by water, now I can pic- 
ture how the flood comes about, but it seems that again I am not 
to be in on the experience of it. 

Much as I have before me, everything is in fact veiled from me 
by the death of Tolstoy in that little, unknown station; how much 
room to act there really is even in our time, how many paths to 
go away by, how this inner life did indeed keep breaking out 
again and again into the visible, passing directly into its legend. It 
is becoming more and more difficult to find the external action 
for what the soul does; Ibsen out of obstinacy carried it through 
within art, Tolstoy, ambitious where truth was concerned and 
namelessly alone, over and over again compelled life to be the 
degree-reading for the level of his soul. But the tremendous pres- 
sure under which this final event took place drove the fluid column 
of action far beyond the scale of conscience to where readings 
could no longer be taken; thus did he fulfill himself as a poet, 'was 
his own figure, which in its greatest sense, in the sense of its deep- 
est urge and doom, he brought to its conclusion. I learned of his 
death yesterday morning through Rodin, who showed me the 
enclosed picture, I think you know it. . . . 

To Clara Rilke Hotel St.-Georges, Algiers 

November 26, 1910 

... It is raining after the first very clear southern days, so 1 
am writing quickly, but it can be only a few words: brightness 
and looking have made me very tired, besides almost nothing can 
be said; I foresee that it will be a long time before I shall be able 
to express myself about all this here, although it is absolutely 


familiar to me when I feel it around me. Algiers is in large part a 
French city, but a stretch of slope on which stand the old Turkish, 
Moorish and Arabian houses still has magnificent and innate con- 
tinuity within itself and with sky and vista; existence there is out 
of the Arabian Nights, beggars and carriers go about as though 
in destinies, Allah is great, and no power but his power is in the 
air. My room faces east, I am awakened daily by the display with 
which the day prepares itself, suddenly after much splendor per- 
formed the sun leaps smooth and finished over the strong Atlas 
mountains. There in that direction lies Biskra whither we want 
to move on the beginning of next week . . . The climate is doing 
me good, and the sea is wonderfully southern in the big arc of this 
bay. . . . 

To Clara Rilke Tunisia Palace Hotel, Tunis 

December 17, 1910 

... It almost seems I am already writing you this for Christ- 
mas Day, amid all the good wishes I have for the life of you two. 
Sometimes in the souks there comes one of those moments when 
one can imagine Christmas: the little niches are hung so full of 
gay objects, the fabrics are so lavish and surprising, the gold 
flashes out as promisingly as if one were to get it tomorrow as a 
gift, and then in the evening when a single lantern across from 
it all burns and moves, excited as it were by the presence of every- 
thing its light engages, then Arabian Nights pass over into all 
that ever was anticipation, wish, and suspense within one, and 
Christmas is not so unthinkable at all. But even in the morning 
I am astonished again and again at what the sun accomplishes as 
it reaches in through the tattered covering of the souks, how, 
falling here and there, it makes a green transparent, a red hot, a 
mauve give itself infinitely, today one went about at an auction 
of gebbas and gandourahs as among a lot of precious stones, one 
went up to some such fabric and simply into it, into its clear 
green, right through its lilac, or simply on in a yellow that was 


still before one, without bottom, like a radiant clarity in the 
sky. In the souk of the parfumeurs we already have a friend; 
when one shakes hands with him, it lasts for the whole day, and 
in the night one is awakened by the feeling that one's own fingers 
are wonderfully spiritualized. I asked for essence of geranium in 
his shop (which is often sold as rose water) ; my wanting that 
and not rose oil pleased him, he initiated me, and that is how our 
friendship came about. . . . 

We plan, if we are not too tired, to attend midnight mass in a 
little church that was formerly a mosque. In any case the little 
girl's Christmas, which is yours, is mine, too, may it be full of 
joy and bright blessing upon Ruth's heart. A good festival for 
you both . . . 


To Clara Rilke Kairuan 

December 21, 1910 

I have come over for a day into the "holy city" of Kairuan, 
after Mecca the great pilgrim center of Islam, which Sidi Okba, 
a comrade of the Prophet, erected in the great plains and which 
has risen up again and again out of its ruins about the enormous 
mosque in which hundreds of pillars from Carthage and all the 
Roman coastal colonies have come together to carry the dark 
cedar ceilings and support the white cupolas, so dazzling today as 
they stand against gray skies, breaking only here and there, out 
of which the rain is falling for which people have been crying 
these three days. Like a vision the flat white city lies there in its 
round-pinnacled ramparts, with nothing but plain and graves 
about it, as though besieged by its dead that lie everywhere before 
the walls and do not stir and are ever increasing. 

One feels the simplicity and vitality of this religion in a won- 
derful way here, the Prophet is like yesterday, and the city is his 
like a kingdom . . . 


To Clara Rilke S.S. Rameses the Great, Luxor 

January 18, 1911 

We are having three days in Luxor, today was the second, 
all of tomorrow still; but one ought to be here much longer, not 
be obliged to see just for the sake later of having seen a lot. On 
the eastern (Arabian) bank, against which we are lying, is the 
temple of Luxor with the high colonnade of budlike lotus columns, 
a half hour farther on that incomprehensible temple world of 
Karnak which I saw the very first evening and yesterday once 
more, in the moon just beginning to wane, saw, saw, saw, dear 
Heaven, one summons up one's strength, looks with all the will to 
believe of two focused eyes and still it begins above them, ex- 
tends everywhere beyond them (only a god can work such a field 
of vision) there stands a calyx column, solitary, surviving, and 
one does not encompass it, so out beyond one's life does it stand, 
only together with the night can one somehow take it in, per- 
ceiving it all of a piece with the stars, whence it becomes human 
for a second human experience. And just think, that over there 
to the west above the two arms of the Nile and the corn lands, 
tower the Libyan Mountains, blossoming by the desert light; we 
rode today through the mighty valley in which the kings rest, each 
beneath the weight of a whole mountain, upon which the whole 
pressure of the sun lies too, as if it were beyond strength to sup- 
press kings. 

No, your experience here, when I think of your letters, was al- 
most complete, I do not scorn it at all; imagine, at the recumbent 
Rameses in the palm grove at Sakkhara I already had the feeling 
I could turn back; now it has long since been too much, and one 
must study Arabic industriously and feel unhappy on donkeys, 
for the sake of the counterbalance. And you did see the Cairo 
Museum (nothing like the Rameses the Sixth with the fettered 
Libyan is anywhere in any of the temples ) . . . 

To Prince Alexander von 

Thurn und Taxis Hotel Al Hayat, Heluan (Cairo) 

February 28, 1911 

... As for me, I can indeed say that much joy has passed 
through my eyes; I am so slow inwardly that I do not know what 
I am bringing with me and whether a kind of order and new life 
can be made of it. I know only that in these countries, which live, 
as it were, into themselves, one ought not to travel this way any 
more without a quite precise aim, I might almost say: without a 
very obvious excuse; one falls in with the do-nothings as against 
the natives; curiosity, which once, when few people traveled, was 
something delicate, almost expert, has become vulgar since it is 
no longer honest and no longer laborious. One is all the time fight- 
ing against a false situation and in the end deprives oneself of the 
right to look anywhere ; one would like blindly to take upon 
oneself and perform some native function or hardship for the 
sake of balance. To me it does seem that as regards the Orientals 
in particular only the former, solitary, painstaking traveler was 
possible; it is grotesque to confront this difficult, self-absorbed 
and toiling world as an onlooker unoccupied and sheltered . . . 

To Princess Marie von Thurn 

und Taxis-Hohenlohe 77 rue de Varenne, Paris 

May 10, 1911 

Alas, my dear Princess, my slowness is getting worse and worse, 
only now am I writing you. When I came here it was snowing, 
now the lilacs are almost over, the red and white thorn is peopled 
with blossoms, and tomorrow or day after tomorrow the blossom- 
ing cities and towers will stand in the full greenness of the chest- 
nuts: how much Nature has done! And how much people do, 
I don't know what they do, but for the most part they look busy 
or at least in love, they are on the go, I am sure they are accom- 


plishing all sorts of things, they play their parts, they write letters, 
and with it all there is still time left over, stubborn time, which 
they set upon noisily as one would upon a clown, just to be rid of 
it. Everything catches up with me, time continually steals a march 
on me, I look at it from behind like a straggler, like a marauder; 
the devil, when will this stop? 

Now do not think I am complaining or that Paris disappoints 
me. On the contrary, I find it just as full again and inwardly alive, 
just as one with the spring, of which it makes all that a beautiful 
woman can make of a dress she wears with pleasure and in a self- 
assured hour. If we could take a few excursions together here such 
as we did in Venice, you would show me much that I do not see 
for sheer redundance, and I would tell you things. Picture to 
yourself, Princess, that in addition the most important exhibitions 
are crowding upon one, that the most beautiful Ingres are being 
shown to one, glorious Rembrandts, pages with clear Persian il- 
luminations; that out in Marly in his primitive garden Maillol is 
exhibiting his sculptures and that one cannot go out there without 
seeing countless woods in their youth beneath the skies inclining 
toward them and paths, on every one of which one would like to 
walk, they call so to one, so easy does it seem to advance on them, 
as if they really went and one had only to abandon oneself to them 
in order next moment to be far away, rustic, free. Tell me your- 
self, Princess, whether you should not be here? . . . 

C 3 

To Frau Lili Schalk 77 rue de Varenne, Paris 

May 14, 1911 

You will not imagine that such great interruptions can tear 
open in a life, though you know how, for us, from the one solu- 
tion, world, ability and inability keep precipitating separately, 
how with every emotion we have gone through both, accustoming 
ourselves to be open at the moment when the outside turned void, 
and being closed and bound when a season, a person, a god wanted 
to be lavish with us. All this you know, with a glance we would 


agree on it, but I do not know whether, even if you were here, 
I could make clear to you why life for me has grown to such 
difficulty and dimness that I never wanted to write about myself. 
I shrank, before those who want to listen, from saying "I" and 
there was no word that brought with it more vagueness, and you 
would certainly have linked it with too large ideas, so that a let- 
ter would have slipped away in deducting, retracting and denying, 
without conveying even the suggestion of any qualifying inter- 

Today, Sunday, I am rereading your letter of November 17 
and see in the little bit of courage I feel to write you almost an in- 
dication that things will get better with me. I remember that on 
the day your letter arrived here, I set out on the long journey 
from which I only returned around Easter: word of it will have 
reached you; so I really was in Algiers, in Tunis, finally in Egypt, 
but it would have served me right if everywhere before the 
greatest external objects I had opened Saint Augustine to the pas- 
sage that strikes home to Petrarch when, up there on Mont Ven- 
toux, opening with curiosity the familiar little book, he finds 
nothing but the reproach of turning his eyes from himself to 
mountains, oceans and distances. So much a pretext was this 
journey, in which I let myself be taken along, and like a pretext 
that one has indulgently let pass, it also lies behind me, not really 
solid and maintainable; the multitude and often the prodigiousness 
of what was before my eyes, about me, beside me, existence 
against existence, impressed itself manifoldly upon me, but my 
taking some of it to myself as increase will perhaps be achieved 
only later, much later. 

You write of Make Laurids. That difficult, difficult book. Do 
you know that sometimes, as I was getting toward the end, it ap- 
peared to me so hard and so definitive a charge, that in it I seemed 
to be clutching all my tasks together and running them into me, 
like that single man who in hand-to-hand fighting takes on all 
the lances opposed to him, as far as he can reach, and in himself 
renders them harmless to all the rest? As soon as I tried in those 
to look out bevond that work, I saw myself on the far side 


of it doing something quite different, never writing again. Now I 
have hesitated after all to try something else that I haven't learned, 
and have thereby come into a stagnancy where there is no cur- 
rent. Can you understand that? And tell me whether one of these 
is arrogant and which one: "to give up" work, to step aside as 
though something had already been accomplished, or, through all 
the aridity, to persist in it because all that it realized was indeed 
scarcely even the beginning of that to which one deemed oneself 
boundlessly committed? 

I am writing, writing , but do you really want suddenly to 
read all this? By means of it I make any third person and all 
rumor superfluous for a long time, and you see "where I stand". 
And so it is an advance at any rate, though by far no reunion. Will 
thi$ year afford one? I hear of lots of people who are coming here 
or are here, and I myself am still wholly on the side of Paris and 
gaze at it in astonishment when it takes spring and deals with it as 
its own possession. Many things I would like to show you, tell 
you much. , 

To Princess Marie von Thurn 

und Taxis-Hohenlohe 77 rue de Varenne, Paris 

May 16, 1911 

By this mail, kindest Princess, I am sending you the certain ser- 
mon on Mary Magdalene and the Guerin Centaur; it is entirely 
selfish and forward of me to impose upon you in my German, be- 
fore it has come into your hands in French, this vehement poem, 
which turns to the reader almost no surface but only fragments of 
its immense substance. But you see, I am so impressed at once again 
having anything at all that I cannot restrain myself from quickly 
communicating it to you, even though it is but a probably quite 
superfluous imitation. 

I am taking counsel with myself a great deal as to why I am still 
not working, it should be time, this long drought is really re- 

ducing my soul little by little to famine. How does something like 
that come to pass? It is as if I had completely lost the ability to 
bring within reach the conditions that can help me; when I grasp 
at any, there are new aggravations and evasions, the days pass by, 
and with them who knows how much life. Shouldn't one invent 
some grotesque figure just in order finally to introduce the sen- 
tence: "He spent the last six or seven years fastening a coat but- 
ton that kept coming undone"? . . . 

I am prattling, Princess, don't listen, in reality I console myself 
that it is the bad conditions of my apartment, which takes on no 
body warmth and removes me too far from the Luxembourg 
and the whole quarter up there. As soon as I catch the air of those 
old streets and the happy quality from the incomparable garden 
I muster up all kinds of courage and feeling , and if God wills, I 
shall dwell my way through to it again and amount to something 
after all. 

Evenings I am reading in the letters of Eugenie de Guerin; it 
is moving, the way she kept up her life, that continued to be still 
and eventless, for her brother, so that for him, who also isolated 
himself in this remarkable city, this little fervent light should al- 
ways burn, an eternal lamp before the dark image of his soul in 
which often nothing was recognizable. It is only too bad that 
provincial piety was so ready and present in her right from the 
beginning; I cannot comprehend religious natures who accept and 
follow God as given and sense him with their feeling without 
trying their hand at him creatively. 

I think a great, great, great deal of Lautschin, of the woodland 
paths, of a certain spot in the park that I love very much. Only I 
am a little afraid we might one day meet a dried-up little centaur 
that has after all perfidiously and scantly survived Guerin's in 
permanent stuntedness. . . . 


C '3 3 

T0 Helene von NostitZ Grand Hotel Continental, Munich 

September 14, 1911 

A stream of business affairs, imagine, carried me away from 
Leipzig ahead of time and alas! far out of Auerbach's vicinity: 
your letter just reached me in Berlin, a few hours afterward I was 
traveling farther, and now I am quickly saving out this moment 
to thank you. The knowledge that I was almost expected at your 
house is dear and heart-warming to me, and even the possibility 
that under certain circumstances I could not be, is of so good 
and happy a nature that from part and counterpart I derive joy 

In Lautschin, shortly after my departure thence, a dear wel- 
come grandchild also came into the summer world, and I had the 
feeling that this long season so assured in itself was quite par- 
ticularly friendly and fitting as preparation and anticipation of 
that event. 

We then drove in the auto from the heart of Bohemia to 
Leipzig, indeed on to Weimar, which I saw again still quite in 
the light of my former being-with-you; to be sure, I did not find 
it so unqualifiedly beautiful preserved in its old essence rather 
than existing and quite worn out by the unyielding summer , 
but, since feeling did not remain everything, I came all the more 
readily this time to all sorts of knowledge and insight, one or two 
figures seemed bright to me on their Goethe-facing side, in the 
Archive I read a magnificent letter of Bettina's and found that 
page on which Goethe in such a wonderful sudden flow wrote: 
Everything proclaims Thee. Besides this, I saw Tiefurt, the 
modest, and saw Belvedere again and felt most directly in the 
Wittumspalais whatever echo of mutual hours of reading may still 
be dying away about Duchess Anna Amalia's big evening table. 
There a little experience befell me: as we entered the blue salon 
(next the ballroom) upstairs, I moved away from the group of 
people keeping together before a picture and had the surprise of 
seeing, from one of the draped, dimly shining windows, a big, 

beautiful, dark butterfly coming somehow significantly and ex- 
pressly toward me (I instinctively turned round, no one had no- 
ticed it) ; it moved on slowly and complacently in the stillness, 
turned, lingered at a sunny spot in the air and sailed then, so very 
alone and adequate (heavy in its lightness as the glance of a dark 
eye), right through the open folding-door into the beautiful ball- 
room, after a time veered resolutely off there, vanished toward 
the left and, when we all moved around there in a while, was no- 
where to be seen. All that transpired in so singularly detailed a 
way, passed in its bit of time so slowly, that it was as timeless as 
it was intimate, charming-serious, full of special tidings , I 
wanted to tell you about it, perhaps Weimar is to be recognized 
in it and greets you in this way. . . . 

I have just seen Hofmannsthal, in the old Pinakothek, in a room 
of indescribably beautiful Greco pictures, by the great and dis- 
tinctive presence of which one was so fascinated that we rather 
promised to see each other again than actually saw each other. 
From here, in a few days, I must move on, perhaps by some little 
roundabout way, toward Paris, and only there will it develop how 
and whither, for staying does not seem very probable to me for the 
present, I still have much too much rusticity in me to start win- 
tering in a city yet. 

To Frau Elsa Bruckmann Duino, Nabresina, Austrian Littoral 

December 14, 1911 

Since I have been here (7 weeks by the calendar), your name 
has been on my letter list, I am truly ashamed that you got ahead 
of me. In view of my negligence this will perhaps repeat itself 
sometimes, only you must not give in to the suspicion that I could 
have forgotten you. Absolutely not; you felt in the fall how much 
I liked being with you, and that settles it, also in spirit, also in 

I have a lovely picture of going over into a new year at your 
home, with you; with you one so often gets into the new, even in 


the middle of the year, so that currents would be summed up and 
we would glide, as through rapids, through the particular mid- 
night that decides the matter. And really, I would need some 
such guarantee so as to drift into an actually new year; in the last 
ones I have been cheated, they were only remis a neuf when I 
began them, already on the second day bad spots showed, they 
were years cast off by Heaven knows what gentlemen, which 
our Lord, who is being frightfully economical with me now, 
deemed still wearable. Yes, but one couldn't parade in them. 

So inclination, you see, is not lacking, and yet in all probability 
I shall have to try right here to claipber in the dark and all alone 
over the crest of the year, so to speak for disciplinary reasons. I 
shall not deserve it otherwise, that is; I have long wanted to be 
here alone, strictly alone, to go into my cocoon, to pull myself to- 
gether, in short, to live by my heart and by nothing else. Now 
since day before yesterday I have really been all alone inside the 
old walls outside, the sea, outside, the Karst, outside, the rain, 
perhaps tomorrow the storm : now must appear what is within 
by way of counterweight to such great and fundamental things. 
So, if something quite unexpected does not come, it may be the 
right thing to stay, to hold out, to hold still with a kind of curi- 
osity toward oneself, don't you think? That is how things stand, 
and if I stir now everything will shift again; and then hearts are 
labeled, like certain medicines: shake before taking; I have been 
continually shaken in these last years, but never taken, that is 
why it is better that I should quietly arrive at clarity and precipita- 
tion. . . . 

C '53 

To N. N. (temporarily) Duino Castle near Nabrcsina, 

Austrian Littoral 
December 26, 1911 

. . . Friend of your friend: you were not mistaken about it, 
this poetry, together with the few words about its author, could 
not but appeal to me, yes, somehow touch me , why shouldn't 

I say so. And yet I decline, absolutely decline to try influencing 
him in any way or even, as you express it, to be destiny for him. 
Don't you feel yourself that one must really wish nothing for 
him so much as that, for a long time yet, nothing may become 
destiny for him, that he may blindly invest his heart here and 
there and try it out and not know whether this is already the path 
or simply the heath still that is full of directions. You see, I 
wouldn't be able to name to him the place from whence he may 
continue. Perhaps this poetry is a scheme of his experiences, per- 
haps everything to come will be an ever new, ever differently ar- 
ranged casting of these roles; perhaps with it too this particular 
plot has been conquered, so that everything to come will presup- 
pose it and begin where it ends I do not know. Who of us can 
know? Not even you, friend of your friend, are quite sure; but I 
surmise that if anyone can offer him the certainties, temporary 
and yet infinitely valid, without which he will not be able to get 
along , it is you; have courage for him, and there will be much 
comfort and protection and thus life will go on. 

Whether for him it will go on through art? What one writes 
at twenty-one is a cry, does one think of a cry whether it ought 
to have been cried differently? The language is still so thin about 
one in these years, the cry pierces through and just takes along 
what is left clinging to it. The development will always be this, 
that one makes one's language fuller, thicker, firmer (heavier), 
and of course there is sense in that only for one who is sure that 
the cry too is growing in him ceaselessly, irresistibly, so that later, 
under the pressure of countless atmospheres, it will issue evenly 
from every pore of the almost impenetrable medium. . . . 

Talent, you understand, scarcely has significance any more in 
our day, since a certain dexterity of expression has become gen- 
eral, where is it not? Hence succeeding still means something 
only where the highest, utmost is achieved, and then one is again 
liable to think that just this unsurpassable something, once it ap- 
pears in a person, is in itself successful. 

And so there is no real ground for concern, only that we want 
never to remain behind our heart and never to be in advance of it: 


that is probably needful. Thus we arrive at everything, each at 
what is his. , v - 

To Lou Andreas-Salome Duino Castle near Nabresina, 

Austrian Littoral 
December 28, 1911 

Let me imagine that you are all but waiting for a letter from 
me, otherwise this big sheet is not justifiable at all, and I really 
cannot take a smaller one. There is a chance at this time that you 
are at home and have quiet, it was always so between the two 
Christmases , so let me tell you about things for a few pages. 

About you I heard through Gebsattel in the fall, but, you can 
imagine, he does not reflect complete ^ctures, he is like one of 
the mirrors doctors use for examination^, so nothing whole was to 
be learned from him, but I did understand that things are going 
well with you and that agrees with everything I know about you, 
independently of all tidings. 

You see, I am still in a hurry to get to myself, I still presume 
that this theme can be of interest; would you like to go into it once 
more? Please, please, do, I will help you, as best I can, perhaps I'll 
be bad at it, in that case there is a point of departure: Make 
Laurids Brigge. I need no answers to my books, that you know, 
but now I deeply need to know what impression this book made 
on you. Our good Ellen Key naturally confused me promptly 
with Make and gave me up; yet no one but you, dear Lou, can 
distinguish and indicate whether and how much he resembles me. 
Whether he, who is of course in part made out of my dangers, 
goes under in it, in a sense to spare me the going under, or whether 
with these journals I have really got for fair into the current that 
is tearing me away and driving me across. Can you understand 
that after this book I have been left behind just like a survivor, 
helpless in my inmost soul, no longer to be used? The nearer I 
came to the end of writing it, the more strongly did I feel that it 
would be an indescribable division, a high watershed, as I kept 


telling myself; but now it turns out that all the water has flowed 
off toward the old side and I am going down into an aridity that 
will not change. And if it were merely that: but the other fellow, 
the one who went under, has somehow used me up, carried on the 
immense expenditure of his going under with the strength and 
materials of my life, there is nothing that was not in his hands, 
in his heart, he appropriated everything with the intensity of his 
despair; scarcely does a thing seem new to me before I discover 
the break in it, the rough place where he tore himself off. Perhaps 
this book had to be written as one sets a mine; perhaps I should 
have jumped way away from it the moment it was finished. But 
I suppose I still cling too much to possession and cannot achieve 
measureless poverty, much as that is probably my crucial task. 
My ambition was such that I put my entire capital into a lost cause, 
but on the other Lalid ' ^ values could become visible only in this 
loss, and that is why, I remember, Make Laurids appeared to me 
for the longest time not so much as a going under, rather as a 
singularly dark ascension into a remote neglected part of heaven. 
It is almost two years: dear Lou, you alone will be able to 
grasp how falsely and precariously I have spent them. I thought 
when they began I had a long, long patience; how often since 
then have I patched it, what all have I not shredded and tied on. 
I have gone through so much that was confusing, experiences 
like that of Rodin simply going wrong in his seventieth year, as 
though all his endless work had not been; as though something 
paltry, some sticky trifle, such as he had surely pushed out of his 
way by the dozen before, not leaving himself time really to get 
through with them, had lain in wait there and overwhelmed him 
easily and now day by day is making his old age into something 
grotesque and ridiculous , what am I to make of that sort of 
experience? A moment of weariness, a few days of slackening suf- 
ficed then, and life rose up about him as unachieved as about a 
school boy and drove him, just as he was, into the nearest wretched 
snare. What am / to say, with the little bit of work out of which I 
keep falling completely, if he wasn't saved? Shall I wonder that 
life-sized life treats me downright scornfully in such interims, and 


what in all the world is this work if in it one cannot go through 
and learn everything, if one hangs around outside it allowing one- 
self to be shoved and pushed, grabbed and let go, becoming in- 
volved in happiness and wrong and never understanding any- 

Dear Lou, I am in a bad way when I wait for people, need 
people, look around for people: that only drives me still further 
into the more turbid and puts me in the wrong; they cannot know 
how little trouble, really, I take with them, and of what ruth- 
lessness I am capable. So it is a bad sign that since Make I have 
often hoped for someone who would be there for me; how does 
that happen? I had a ceaseless longing to bring my solitude under 
shelter with someone, to put it in someone's protection; you can 
imagine that in those conditions nothing made any progress. With 
a kind of shame I think of my best Paris time, that of the New 
Poems, when I expected nothing and no one and more and more 
the whole world streamed toward me merely as a task and I re- 
plied clearly and surely with pure work. Who would have told me 
then that so many relapses were before me! I waken every morn- 
ing with a cold shoulder, there, where the hand should lay hold 
that shakes me. How is it possible that now, prepared and 
schooled for expression, I am left in fact without a vocation, 
superfluous? In the years when Ilya of Murom sprang up, I sit 
myself down and wait, and my heart knows of no occupation for 
me. What will you say, Lou, when you read this? Did you foresee 
it? I remember a passage from your last letter, which I haven't 
here: "you are still going so far," you wrote. And if not, what 
is to be done in order not to go bad in the standstill? What is to 
be done? 

I am thinking less than before of a doctor. Psychoanalysis is 
too basic a help for me, it helps once and for all, it clears out, and 
to find myself cleared out one day would perhaps be even more 
hopeless than this disorder. 

On the other hand I still busy myself from time to time with 
the idea of pursuing a few subjects consistently at a little country 
university. You smile, you are familiar with that, yes, there is 


little that is new with me, and the worst of it is that certain of my 
plans and perhaps even my best and worst qualities have sense only 
with relation to a certain age and beyond that are simply absurd. 
Indeed it is almost too late even for the university, but you know 
what I mean by that; the terrible thing about art is that the 
further one gets in it, the more it commits one to the highest, al- 
most impossible; here enters in spiritually what in another sense 
the woman in the Baudelaire poem means who in the great still- 
ness of the full-moon night suddenly bursts out: que c'est un dur 
metier que d'etre belle femme. 

Here, Lou, is another of my confessions. Are the symptoms 
those of the long convalescence which my life is? Are they signs 
of a new sickness? I wish I could be with you once for a week, to 
hear and to tell. It has been so long. I get about so much, shouldn't 
it be possible to meet sometime? 

Do you know that last winter I was in Algiers, Tunis and 
Egypt? Unfortunately under conditions so little suited to me that 
I lost my seat and bearing and finally followed along just like 
someone a runaway horse has thrown off and drags along up and 
down in the stirrup. That wasn't the right thing. But a little 
Orient was instilled into me anyway, on the Nile boat I even went 
in for Arabic, and the museum in Cairo perhaps made something 
of me after all, confused as I was on entering. 

This year I am enjoying the hospitality of friends here (for the 
time being all alone) in this strong old castle that holds one a little 
like a prisoner; it cannot do otherwise with its immense walls. And 
at least the practical disorder in my affairs will benefit by my 
being taken care of here for a few months. Beyond that I know 
nothing and want to know nothing. 

Goodbye, dear Lou, God knows, your being was so truly the 
door by which I first came into the open; now I keep coming from 
time to time and place myself straight against the doorpost on 
which we marked my growth in those days. Allow me this dear 
habit and love me. 


n n n 

To Lou Andreas-Salome Duino near Nabresina, Austrian Littoral 

January 10, 1912 

The elder Prince Taxis was here, I have been alone again only a 
few days, am now at last thanking you for your good letter. I 
have, you may believe me, read much between the words, I walked 
up and down in the garden with it as with something that one 
wants to learn by heart, what would I do without this voice: 
yours? I cannot tell you how intimate and comforting it was to 
me, I am the lone little ant that has lost its head, but you see the 
anthill and assure me it is intact and I will find my way into it 
again and make myself useful. And on top of everything came 
the surprise that you know this coast, so that your letter, as it 
were, applied not only to me but also to my surroundings, ad- 
dressed itself to everything and was right for everything. You are 
right, it has probably always been like this with me, but, you see, 
I tire myself out with it; as someone who walks on crutches al- 
ways rubs his coat through first under the armpits, so my one- 
sidedly worn nature will, I fear, one day have holes and yet at 
other places be like new. These last years it has often seemed to 
me as though many workers in art had got hold of themselves by 
outwitting and exploiting their own inadequacies of which they 
were aware, rather as they would have made use of a weakness 
recognized in someone else. I am too much on the side of my na- 
ture, I have never wanted anything of it that it did not dispense 
magnanimously and happily out of its innermost impulses, almost 
out beyond me. And by the other road the most that is accom- 
plished is that one can always write; that I don't care about. What 
weighs upon me this time is not even so much the length of the 
pause perhaps, but rather a kind of dulling, a kind of growing old, 
if one should call it that, as though what is strongest in me had 
really been damaged somehow, were just a bit guilty, were at- 
mosphere, do you understand: air instead of universal space. It 
may be that this continual inner distraction in which I live has 
in part physical causes, is a thinness of the blood; whenever I 


notice it, it still becomes a reproach to me for having let it get so 
far. No matter what is before me: I still get up every day with 
the doubt whether I shall succeed in doing it, and this distrust has 
become big from the actual experience that weeks, even months 
can go by in which I produce only with extreme effort five lines 
of a quite indifferent letter, which, when they are finally there, 
leave an aftertaste of incompetence such as a cripple might feel 
who can't even shake hands any more. 

Shall I go on through all that nevertheless? Then if people 
chance to be present, they offer me the relief of being able to be 
more or less the person they take me for, without being too par- 
ticular about my really existing. How often does it not happen 
that I step out of my room somehow like a chaos, and outside, 
someone being aware of me, find a poise that is actually his, and 
the next moment, to my amazement, am expressing well-formed 
things, while just before everything in my entire consciousness 
was utterly amorphous. To whom am I saying this, dear Lou, 
indeed it is almost through you that I know it is so, you see how 
little has changed, and in this sense people will always be the 
false way for me, something that galvanizes my lif elessness, with- 
out remedying it. Alas, my dear, I do know so well that my earliest 
instinct was the definitive one, I don't want to do anything what- 
ever against it, but as it is I have been placed among people and 
have felt real influences from them and have worked myself into 
them like one of them. I am not even mentioning that in a certain 
year when things weren't going on at all or rather couldn't begin 
anywhere (for there was simply nothing there yet) , you came : 
that can be only once, just as there is only one birth, but I have 
other single memories in the human sphere to which I cling, 
when one puts them into words, they are quite insignificant, as 
to content, and yet, will you believe me, in the long complicated 
solitude, often carried to the extreme, in which Make Laurids 
was written, I felt perfectly certain that the strength by which I 
defrayed his cost stemmed to an important extent from certain 
evenings on Capri on which nothing happened except that I sat 
by two elderly women and a young girl and watched their needle- 


work and sometimes at the end was given an apple peeled by one 
of them. There was no trace of destiny between us, it was never 
even investigated just how far these people were necessary in 
order that that should come into being which was born there; name 
it has none, but I experienced from it something almost of the 
mystical way of nourishment that is the Communion; while it was 
still going on, I knew that it was giving me strength and later, 
in the laborious solitude, I recognized these powers among all 
others; it was strange, they held out longest. 

Dear Lou, when I wrote recently that I was almost hoping for 
people, I meant that since then I have not again experienced this 
and need it infinitely. Can't you imagine that there is some human 
being who is able to give this, spontaneously, unintentionally, and 
who would be content to irradiate mere presence and expect 
nothing? There are even people who do that for the sick where 
all care leads at best to health, while here it would begin as it 
were with the healthiest and reach God knows whither. It isn't 
in times like these bad ones that this need of mine developed; dur- 
ing the immense concentration which carried through the New 
Poems, it acquired contour and in a sense I finished the writing of 
the Brigge as though on condition that this would come true. I 
will demonstrate it to you by something quite concrete. Imagine 
that I think with the same anguish of trying again in the rue 
Cassette with a little furnished room, or of returning among my 
own furniture, which in recent years has turned completely into 
the scenery indicated for the last act of Make Laurids. Ridiculous 
as it is, I undergo all these things like destinies, and that is why 
they have once been so fundamentally gone through and cannot 
be begun again. Do you understand that I picture a creature who 
would make the things exaggerated by me ordinary and guileless 
once more? Is there no such person? One might think I was 
experiencing what happened in the fable: that I had simply sung 
instead of building, and was left now, when it is getting cold, 
without shelter. But no, you see, what I am thinking of could 
not have been built in any case, it would be absolutely miraculous, 
and I would have no right to count on it had not everything de- 


cisive in my life been just as independent of my provision and in 
no wise possible to prepare and to lay foundations for. Perhaps 
everyone who hears of this will first ask with what I, for my part, 
intend to achieve such a relationship; there I must own that I 
really can respond with nothing, save perhaps with my own 
warmer and happier existence, as it may possibly have revealed 
itself to those women too that time in Capri. I believe in Naples 
once, before some ancient tombstone, it flashed through me that I 
should never touch people with gestures stronger than those there 
portrayed. And I really believe I am sometimes far enough along 
to express all the insistence of my heart without loss and fatality 
when I lay my hand lightly on a shoulder. Wouldn't that, Lou, 
wouldn't that be the only advance thinkable within that "re- 
straint" of which you remind me? 

It is three-thirty, I have scarcely eaten, I am spending almost 
all day writing to you, and yet it is so hard to make it under- 
standable that my head is buzzing; I make hardly any progress, 
I keep wanting to begin again and say everything over once 
more, but to what purpose, I do not want to convince you. Only 
you should know what I meant by "human beings": not a giving 
away of solitude; only, if that solitude weren't so suspended in 
air, if it came into good hands, would it entirely lose the accom- 
panying tones of morbidity (that will sooner or later be inevitable 
anyhow), and I would finally achieve some sort of continuity 
within it instead of carrying it like a filched bone from bush to 
bush amid loud halloos. 

There, your old mole has shown you some digging again 
and thrown up a lot of dark earth right across a good road. For- 
give me. To you I speak such inward things, like the people in 
the Old Testament, an entire scroll: for what stands there in the 
burning thornbush of your life is exactly what shall have power 
over me too. 

Dear Lou, if it works, I shall probably stay here into the spring, 
although neither the house nor the climate really suits me; this 
continual shift between bora and sirocco is not good for my 
nerves, and I exhaust myself participating first in one and then in 


the other. Nevertheless when I add up the individual advantages 
of this refuge, it comes to a large sum and I must count myself 
fortunate in having it. In my present state any place would have 
been difficult for me, but not everywhere could I have gone so 
to the bottom of my condition as here. It is only too bad that 
Nature here offers me almost nothing, even the ocean leaves me 
indifferent; as if this stupid Austrian polyglotism took away even 
from the landscape its unified, unequivocal expression. I can 
hardly say how repugnant everything Austrian is to me. I long 
for Naples, or I would like to walk for hours in the snow through 
woods and afterwards drink delicious coffee with you. But it will 
be all right anyway ,. . . 

To Countess 

Manon ZU Solms-Laubach Duino Castle near Nabresina, 

Austrian Littoral 
January 12, 1912 

... It is splendid that you have taken such strong and wide- 
spreading root in the fine tasks your dear little pupil ceaselessly 
offers you; from all you say of them emanates the vibration evenly 
transmitted to all sides by any deep pure activity, like the vibra- 
tion of a bell rung for sheer joy. One just can't help becoming 
a little more cheerful and courageous for it; so much does all that 
is reliable and constant in life come together in experiences like 

The work of the artist has many dangers and often does not 
let one make out so clearly in detail whether one is going ahead 
or being driven back by the pressure of the too great forces with 
which one has become involved. Then it is a matter of waiting 
and holding out, and this has always been very difficult for me 
because I have neglected everything outside of work, so that in 
such interims I lack everything, even the place where a crisis like 
that might be got over. Probably I have never watched more 
passionately than in the past year those who are engaged in some- 

thing good, regular, that one is always "able to do", something 
more dependent upon understanding, thought, insight, experi- 
ence what you will than upon those powerful tensions of 
inner living over which no one has control. They are not exalta- 
tions, surely not, or they could not effect something so indescrib- 
ably real in the spiritual realm, but in their onrush and in their 
rebound they are of such extravagance that one might often think 
the heart cannot endure anything so extreme in both directions. 
In your reality there are certainly not inferior forces, but they 
are differently distributed, fortunately; I can scarcely conceive 
at all any more of a woman being able to pursue art without violat- 
ing her nature; we are already a shade more removed, more 
estranged, more derived. Hence we manage it somehow. Only by 
a very wide detour probably can art proceed from Nature, not 
without despair, I might say, not without original sin. Think of 
your mosses : from that there keeps springing, if one lets them 
act on one, only joy, admiration, pure rapture, affirmation of 
life, a kind of emulation in existence , but not art, not art * . * 

c '>n 

To Emil Baron VOn Gebsattel Duino Castle near Nabresina, 

Austrian Littoral 
January 14, 1912 

Dear friend, we haven't written each other at all since Munich, 
I know that isn't troubling you, but now for once I do want 
quickly to avail myself of the Sunday evening to ask about you 
and to communicate myself to you. 

How have things gone since then? I would have many ques- 
tions. Were you to reply with more, I could tell you that I 
have been here since the end of October, but only since quite re- 
cently alone, which after all was what was really intended. Over 
this new little while naturally I haven't yet managed to accom- 
plish anything , against the circumstances there is little to say; 
at most, that the climate, an incessant shifting between the ex- 
tremes of sirocco and bora, is not exactly ideal for the inner 


steadiness I wish for myself. Hence not really entirely beneficial, 
but on the other hand the advantages are so many that, if I manage 
at all well, I can still arrive at a kind of profit here. Just through 
the thorough solitude. The castle is an immense body without 
much soul: obsessed with the idea of its own firmness, it holds one 
by its inwardly directed gravitation like a prisoner; it is a rather 
austere dwelling. Along the steep cliffs, from the sea, an ever- 
green garden climbs up to it, otherwise any green is rare, we are 
in the Karst, and the hardened mountains forego the effeminacy 
of any vegetation. 

So much for the externals. Of what is within me there is scarcely 
anything yet to say , I long for work, sometimes I think for a 
moment it is longing for me too , but we do not meet. The fact 
that I have no plans is agreeable to me rather than disquieting. 
The other day the furniture at last left the memorable, the tire- 
some, the strange house in the rue de Varenne and is waiting for 
my future in a garde-meubles . . . Marthe, (of her I hear only 
indirectly through Madame W., who, it seems, is taking a more 
and more lively interest in her) , Marthe is learning to cook and 
has a talent for it, in the evening she draws and has a grasp of 
that too such as one would scarcely believe; occasionally she goes 
with Madame W. to the theater, all that is turning with her into 
sheer life, finds untold readinesses in her nature , it is becoming 
a miracle. But I am almost too much concerned about myself and 
self-absorbed, it is clear that this quiet here must bring with it 
some kind of decision; among all that is going through my head, 
there is naturally analysis too. In that connection it occurs to me 
that we have never talked about whether you actually consider 
it appropriate in my case? It still seems to me that my work is 
really nothing but a self -treatment of the same sort, how else 
would I have hit upon work at all (already at the age of ten or 
twelve)? My wife, from whom incidentally I only rarely have 
short letters, thinks, if I am not mistaken, that a kind of cowardice 
is frightening me away from analysis, it would be in keeping 
(as she expresses it) with the "trusting", the "religious" side of 
my nature to undertake it, but that is not right; my very re- 


ligiosity, if one is to call it that, keeps me from this operation, 
from this great clearing out that life does not do, from this 
correcting of the whole hitherto written page of life which I then 
imagine all rewritten in red as in a school notebook a silly con- 
ception and surely quite false , but that is how it looks to me. 

In a letter of some time ago, shortly after my departure from 
Munich, my wife expressed much concerning me so precisely 
and correctly that I was moved by it: it is indeed true, much of me 
that was simply a bad habit, through which one occasionally 
reached as through bad air, is solidifying, is acquiring resistance 
and can soon have become a wall and shut me off, I know all 
is not well with me, and you, dear friend, have also observed it, 
but, believe me, I am still struck by nothing so much as by the 
incomprehensible, incredible wonderfulness of my existence, 
which from the very beginning was so impossibly disposed, and 
advanced nevertheless from salvation to salvation, as though al- 
ways through the hardest stone; so that when I think of no longer 
writing, practically the only thing that upsets me is not to have 
recorded the utterly wonderful line of this life so strangely car- 
ried through. Alas, round about me I see dim destinies and hear 
talk of casualties and cannot help being amazed. Can you under- 
stand, my friend, that I am afraid of disturbing by any classifica- 
tion or survey, be it never so relieving, a much higher order whose 
right, after all that has happened, I would have to acknowledge, 
even if it were to destroy me? 

You know enough of my life to turn to examples for what I 
mean. You are also acquainted, better than almost anyone else, 
with the way I have been lying here for two years, doing nothing 
but trying to get up, grasping now at one person, now at another, 
who happens along, and living on the time and the listening of 
those I cause to stand still before me. It is in the nature of this 
state to become a complete abnormality if it lasts for long, and I 
ask myself every day whether I am not bound at any cost to put 
an end to it somehow or other. And yet, you see, it was never I 
who made the end, the new beginning took it incidentally, 
just as it was, out of my hands. 

44 _ 

My dear friend, with all this I have now made myself amply 
present to you. Write sometime, tell me about things, and if you 
want to bring it up, let me read what you think of this creature 
with regard to analysis. When I go away from here, the next thing 
will have its turn, won't it? I ask myself. You ask yourself some- 
time. Let us be prepared, and then let us let come what can, and 
we shall see. 

To Lou Andreas-Salome Duino Castle near Nabresina, 

Austrian Littoral 
January 20, 1912 

Don't be startled, Lou, that I am already here again: it will 
be only a little visit, if it doesn't suit you, put me aside until to- 
morrow, day after tomorrow when you will. 

Chance made me find your letter this morning and the enclosed 
from Gebsattel simultaneously on my writing table. I beg you, 
read it; here quickly the few data that will make it intelligible to 

You understand that the thought of going through an analysis 
rises in me now and then; to be sure, what I know of Freud's writ- 
ings is uncongenial to me and in places hair-raising; but the mat- 
ter itself, which runs away with him, has its genuine and strong 
sides, and I can conceive of Gebsattel's using it with discretion 
and influence. Now as for me, I have already written you that, 
emotionally, I rather shun this getting cleared out and, with my 
nature, could hardly expect anything good of it. Something like 
a disinfected soul results from it, a monstrosity, alive, corrected in 
red like the page of a school notebook. And yet: dear Lou, as 
matters stand with me, I hardly have the right, out of mere feel- 
ing, to cast suspicion on a help that is right there and is holding 
itself in readiness. I knew more or less that Gebsattel was pre- 
pared to perform the whole excavation on me, but I had never 
actually asked him whether, so far as he knows me (and we had 
very detailed talks at a certain time in Paris and at, for me, a dim 


and wearisome period), the use of analysis seemed suitable for me. 
Hence the letter I sent him on the fifteenth of this month con- 
tained this question and at the same time a few of my scruples. 
The enclosed is his answer. It seems to me he is mistaken about 
some things; in any case it is time now, in view of his readiness, 
really to consider this expedient. The fact remains that from a 
purely physical standpoint I am quite unbearable to myself; cer- 
tain bad habits, which I formerly always used to reach through 
as through bad air, are solidifying more and more, and I can 
conceive of their shutting me in someday like walls. The over- 
sensitivity of my muscles, for example, is so great that a little 
gymnastics or an in any way exaggerated posture (as in shaving 
for instance) results at once in swelling, pains, etc., phenomena 
which are then followed by fears, interpretations, distresses of 
every sort as though they had just been waiting: I am ashamed 
to admit to what extent, often for weeks, this fateful circle dances 
about me in which one misery does the other every favor. 

You know perhaps, dear Lou, that since sometime early in the 
year Gebsattel has had m[y] wfife] under treatment, with her 
it is a diff erent matter, her work has never helped her, while mine, 
in a certain sense, was from the beginning a kind of self -treatment; 
though, in proportion as it has developed and become something 
independent, it is losing more and more of its therapeutic and 
considerate character and is making demands; a soul that has no 
alternative but to find its harmony in the immense exaggerations 
of art ought to be able to count on a body that does not ape it in 
any way and is precise and nowhere exaggerates itself. My physi- 
cal being runs the risk of becoming the caricature of my spiritual' 
being. Dear Lou, if it will not be too much for you, help me with 
a few words to think it over. (Under certain circumstances I 
would go to Munich, do a few things there at the University and 
at the same time attempt the analysis.) Your letter I will answer 
soon, thank you. You see how things go up and down with me 
and to and fro: what to do? 


4 6 

C" 3 

To Annette Kolb Duino Castle near Nabresina, 

Austrian Littoral 
January 23, 1912 

Rarely am I so fortunate. Only in Paris does it occasionally 
happen that on the quai, with an accuracy unattainable by any 
sort of intention, I reach out my hand for the very book I happen 
to want : so your essay comes to me with most wonderful time- 
liness , I read it three times yesterday, accommodating myself 
more and more to it, and now fling myself upon this paper to 
thank you. 

How often I have been on the point of pondering this very 
thing, as a subject it is so tremendously present, it is in the air, it 
issues from the pores of things : mais moi, je ne pense guere au 
fond, j'avale mes pensees toutes entieres sans en detailler le gout, 
je les ai dans mon sang avant d'en tirer le profit immediat qui 

And then, I have no window on to people, definitively. They 
yield themselves to me only in so far as they themselves find words 
within me, and then in these recent years they have been com- 
municating themselves to me almost solely through two figures 
upon which in general I base my inferences on mankind. What 
speaks to me of things human, immensely, with a calm of authority 
that makes my hearing spacious, is the phenomenon of those who 
have died young and, more absolutely still, more purely, more 
inexhaustibly: the woman who loves. In these two figures things 
human are mixed into my heart whether I will or no. They make 
their apearance in me both with the distinctness of the marionette 
(which is an exterior charged with convincing) and as finite 
types beyond which one cannot go, so that the natural history of 
their souls could be written. 

Let us keep to the woman who loves, by whom I do not so 
much mean St. Theresa and such magnificence as occurred along 
those lines, she yields herself to my observation much more 
.unequivocally, more purely that is, undilutedly and (if I 


may express it thus) more directly in the situation of Gaspara 
Stampa, the Lyonnaise Labe, certain Venetian courtesans and, 
above all, Marianna Alcoforado, that incomparable woman, in 
whose eight heavy letters woman's love is for the first time charted 
from point to point without display, without exaggeration or 
mitigation, as by the hand of a sibyl. And there, my God, we 
find that as a result of the unrestrainable logic of the feminine 
heart, this line, finished in the earthly sphere, completed, was not 
to be driven further unless one were able to prolong it toward 
the divine into the infinite. But there, in the example of that highly 
incidental Chamilly (whose foolish vanity Nature made use of 
to obtain the letters of the Portuguese Nun), with the sublime 
expression of the nun: "My love is no longer dependent on the 
way you treat me " the man, as a beloved, was shed, discharged, 
loved through if one may express it so considerately, loved 
through as a glove is worn through. And it is a wonder that the 
man held out so long since he took part in love only at his thinnest 
places. What a sad figure he cuts in the history of love: in it he 
has almost no strength save the superiority tradition attributes to 
him, and he carries even that with a carelessness that would be 
simply infuriating had not his absent-mindedness and absent- 
heartedness often had great occasions which partially justify him. 
But no one will change my conviction concerning what becomes 
evident through this extremest lover and her ignominious partner: 
that this relationship definitely brings to light how much all that 
was achieved, borne, accomplished on the one side, the woman's, 
contrasts with the man's absolute inadequacy in love. She re- 
ceives, to to speak, to make it tritely clear, the diploma of ability 
to love, while he has an elementary grammar of this discipline in 
his pocket from which a few words have of necessity gone into 
him with which he occasionally forms sentences, beautiful and 
rapturous as the familiar sentences on the first pages of language 
primers. The case of the Portuguese Nun is so wonderfully 
clear because she does not fling the currents of her emotion for- 
ward into the imaginary, but rather with unending strength leads 
this emotion of highest order back into herself: enduring it, 


nothing else. She grows old in the convent, very old, she becomes 
no saint, not even a good nun. It goes against her rare tact to apply 
to God what from the beginning was not meant for him and what 
the Count de Chamilly had been allowed to disdain. And yet it 
was almost impossible to stay the heroic onrush of this love just 
before the leap, and still through such vibration of her innermost 
being not become a saint. Had she, this creature beyond measure 
magnificent, yielded for a moment, she would have plunged 
into God like a stone into the sea, and had it pleased God to at- 
tempt with her what he constantly does with the angels, throw- 
ing their whole radiance back into them : I am sure, she would 
on the spot, as she stood there, in that sad convent, have become 
an angel, within, in her deepest nature. 

You call me back, but I haven't got so very far from your 
essay. You will see at once, we are in the midst of it. Woman has 
gone through, achieved, carried to the end something that is her 
own, most her own. Man who always had the excuse of being 
busy with more important things, and who besides (let us say it 
frankly) has by no means sufficiently prepared for love, has not 
since antiquity (the saints excepted) troubled himself at all with 
love. The troubadours knew precisely how little they could risk, 
and Dante, in whom the need became very great, got around love 
only by the prodigious arc of his gigantically evasive poem. 
Everything else is, in this sense, derivative and second hand. But 
you comprehend how, given this state of my secret mind, the 
view from your window could not but become remarkable and 
exciting to me. I take your word for what you see, and for the 
first time since you have so brilliantly set me going, I know what 
I really expect. You see, I am expecting man, the man of the "new 
grain", who is in process, for the present, of "going to pieces", 
after this for him very salutary interval to take upon himself, for 
the next few thousand years, his own development into the 
"lover", a long, a difficult, for him completely new development. 
As for the woman, dear Fraulein Kolb, the excellent, really unique 
situation of your window permits the assumption that probably, 


withdrawn into a beautiful, self-made contour, she will find the 
composure, without getting bored and without too much irony, 
to wait for and to receive this tardy lover. . . . 

To Lou Andreas-Salome Duino Castle near Nabresina, 

Austrian Littoral 
January 24, 1912 

Dear Lou, 

Kind hearty you speak to me while you write, I am so at home 
in the reading of your letters that, despite the ink's blackness, I 
don't for a moment consider excluded the little stars you men- 
tioned ; and what is more I am so prepared for what you say 
by my own feeling, that first, again and again strongest feeling, 
which you affirm, that I am not lacking in conviction. I acted 
upon it even before your telegram, thanking Gebsattel with a 
few lines for his letter full of friendly readiness and holding out 
the prospect of an early answer. And one of these days I shall 
write him, without too much haste. 

I know now that analysis would have sense for me only if I 
were really serious about the strange reservation of not writing 
any more, which during the finishing of Make I often dangled 
before my nose as a kind of relief. Then one might have one's 
devils exorcised, since in ordinary social life they really are only 
disturbing and painful, and should the angels by some chance leave 
as well, one would have to construe that too as a simplification 
and tell oneself that in the next, the new profession (which?) 
there would certainly be no use for them. But am I the man for 
such an experiment with all the consequences of that experiment? 
Or is it again just a crafty piece of creative activity, to imagine 
oneself from tomorrow on another person, as it were, not inside 
a task but in one's own skin now grown shabby? For a while it 
comforted me in a kind of general way that one could after all 
do something else at any moment, in case this that was before 
should be over. But yet, in a strict sense, long as the interval has 

5 _ 

lasted, nothing I could now take hold of has occurred to me 
except just the analysis, and that of course will only delay every- 
thing once more, present matters as well as whatever comes next. 
You must not laugh, but for weeks, toward the conclusion of the 
Brigge, I had the feeling I could still become a doctor afterwards, 
study and then [be] a doctor somewhere in the country. 

It is a shame, a shame we cannot meet one another now on a 
walk, I would tell you a great, great deal. But that will come 
sometime. In any case it is fine, glorious for me, that you know 
analysis so intimately and what is more have also seen Gebsattel 
(who indeed practices analysis only "for a while and in a few 
cases", as you say) . 

Your letter I shall read often. 

Goodbye, I want this to go off today, and therefore am closing 
quickly. And thanks. (I hope I didn't break in on your work too 


P.S. I have quickly copied, so that something more would come 
back to you with this hasty scribble, two poems from a quite 
new little "Life of Mary". 

To Baron Emil von Gebsattel Duino Castle near Nabresina, 

Austrian Littoral 
January 24, 1912 

Dear, good friend, 

Do not take this yet as my very last word : not that I plan to 
back out of the decision once more, only in the endeavor to be 
quite precise in the face of your readiness that is so great and so 
important to me. This is the point: I have been entirely alone 
here only since the sixth of January. Now I feel that this being 
alone, as yet not very long, is accomplishing all kinds of things 
in me, daily a little more. And all I would like is to retain the 
possibility (if it can wait that long) of being allowed to confirm 
to you after a few weeks, let us say the beginning of March, what 

I am trying to write you today, or else of retracting it. And I may 
say at once that there is more likelihood of the former. 

That is to say, by the most serious deliberations I have arrived 
at the result that I may not allow myself the expedient of analysis, 
unless I were really resolved, on the far side of it, to begin a new 
(possibly noncreative) life, a change which during the conclu- 
sion of the M.L.B. and often since in weary moods, I did some- 
times promise myself as recompense, so to speak, for everything 
endured. But now I must admit to myself that I was never quite 
serious about such plans, that rather, behind such pretexts, I do 
feel myself infinitely strongly bound to the once begun, to all 
the joy and all the misery it entails, so that, strictly speaking, I 
can wish for no sort of change, no interference from without, no 
relief, except that inherent in enduring and in final achievement. 
Perhaps certain of my recently expressed scruples are much ex- 
aggerated; as far as I know myself, it seems to me certain that if 
one were to drive out my devils, my angels too would get a little 
(let us say), a very little fright and you do feel it that is 
exactly what I may not risk at any cost. 

What I am going through is in reality no worse than what I 
have put up with many other times, and with it all my patience 
is now so much more mature and reliable than years ago. The 
length of the interval might in case of need be explained by the 
deep division which came through the gigantic working up of 
material in the Brigge. But even if this were just a small part of 
the interim, could it not nevertheless be that for my nature there 
is only one entirely right way: to hold out? I believe I shall be 
from one time to the next in the position of Sinbad the Sailor, who 
in the f atef ulness of his distresses foreswore all travel and yet ever 
and again made ready and set forth one day, he knew not how. 
So that is how matters stand, my dear friend. Your good letter 
contributed much toward helping me to this kind of clarity, which 
isn't exactly brilliant, of course: but by it one can read and write 
and hold out, and it would be sheer curiosity and impertinence 
to require more right away . . . 

Enough, dear friend. 

Feel through all the restrictions that paper and ink entail 
the good lively gratitude with which I am, with many greet- 



To Lou Andreas-Salome Duino Castle near Nabresina, 

Austrian Littoral 
February 7, 1912 

Yes, dear Lou, Dai Bog zhizn! And what Christ manifested 
with so much consideration to Angela of Foligno will always be 
proved in the end: that he was daily so much readier to give than 
she was to receive. The bad thing is only that for me now, from 
a purely physical point of view, the receiving affects me almost 
like the not-being-able to receive. Alas, old calash that I am, my 
springs were so fine before, and now if the miracle happens to 
ride in me half an hour, I ani amazed that it doesn't climb out: I 
bump and shake like the poorest telyega and in the process almost 
come apart myself. 

Enough. For the third day now I have been padding about a 
little in the snow with the longingest bare feet; for two days in- 
deed it has been thawing; but inadvertently such a quantity had 
fallen that, despite the sirocco, it still hasn't all dwindled away 
from the garden. (I must, I believe, sometime soon have a regular 
winter again, one with which to tussle.) 

Today, to go back to your third letter ago, I wanted to tell you 
a little about Kassner. But it is difficult for me to leave the man 
himself out of consideration, indeed, I cannot do it at all. What I 
read of his before I knew him was "too difficult" for me; I have 
read him with real insight only since he lurks behind it for me, 
often directly in front of it even. Isolated, as he now is more and 
more, he has attached himself to me with strong confidence and 
considers me absolutely as his friend: wherein he is certainly not 
mistaken, he is really the only man with whom I can get any- 


where, perhaps better so: the only one to whom it occurs to 
make a little use of the feminine in me. I felt, unusually purely and 
directly, even when I saw him for the first time years ago in 
Vienna, the bright radiance of his nature which shines, which is 
an out-and-out light, a brightness in space. He has something 
which others, seen beside him, have not, he must have attained 
something that others do not attain. (For the rest, by descent and 
origin there is nothing Jewish about or in him, you seem to take 
him for a Jew? no.) He is certainly which he too would 
admit a spiritual child of Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard comes to an 
end in him and goes into the circle and on. I have an idea that what 
his "melancholy" was for Kierkegaard, Kassner's infirmity is for 
him. And as it was a kind of advantage for Kierkegaard always to 
have, instead of so many unpredictable hindrances, only this one 
immense, superhuman melancholy before which he ranged himself 
in ever new battle formations, so Kassner too somehow prevails 
by the fact that all oppositions coincide for him in one hindrance: 
that procures him a concentration and a tranquillity, nothing can, 
so to speak, attack him from behind. But this indescribable ad- 
miration for Kierkegaard may again be linked with the fact that 
Kierkegaard's adversary was more mystical, more inexhaustible, 
more dangerous, handed down in a way from the Beyond through 
his father, while that which he, Kassner, spiritually overcomes at 
every moment is even, in a divine sense, a merit. (Kierkegaard's 
melancholy is still an impediment even in heaven.) Do you know 
Kassner's earlier essay on Indian Idealism? I don't know if that 
isn't his best. If you like, I will have it sent you sometime by 
Bruckmann (where, if I am not mistaken, it was published) . In 
the beautiful chapter (yes, the most beautiful in the book) about 
the chimeras, I might indeed be painted in down below very small 
and at least kneeling, as "little originator": that is, in Paris, in 
certain days when we were seeing each other often, I advised 
him without knowing what he happened to be writing about 
just to climb up once more to the chimeras on Notre Dame, said 
nothing further about them ; but that must have given the touch- 
off and been strangely opportune. Furthermore, I can imagine that 

54 _ _____ _ 

what I felt in his books before I continually drew the man himself 
into them is in reality akin to what you noted in reading. But to 
what is it due? If you spoke with him, I believe you would hit 
upon it in half an hour, me he prejudices in favor of his own mean- 
ing, you would watch him quite delightedly and form your own 

A few evenings ago I read the "Chamber Plays" of the aged 
Strindberg; they are frightful, frightful: it is appalling that old men 
should close thus, like the little twenty-three-year-old dauphine 
whose last words were: fi de la vie, ne m'en parlez plus. The aged 
Michelangelo who writes in a sonnet: what is the good of having 
made so many dolls? (or something similar, I know only the Italian 
text, and it is hard to translate). But in Strindberg there must be 
strengths, the strength-masses of a landslide; to have this world, 
and nevertheless to be, to achieve, that is beyond all conception. 
For indeed he not only speaks of this despair to which everything 
gives rise, he makes something out of it, and he makes it magnifi- 
cently, that one must grant him. (Have you read these plays? 
Chamber Plays, George Miiller, Munich-Leipzig; especially the 
second, third and fourth plays!) . . . 

But now proshchai, how long I have written! Thanks for your 

To N. N. Duino Castle near Nabrcsina, 

Austrian Littoral 
February 8, 1912 

Now it is my turn to thank you, not for Pierrot, for mercy's 
sake, no: that would be his ruin, Pierrot's ruin, the saddest story in 
the world. What are you thinking of, how would I cope with his 
boundless homesickness? ! And then, besides the distress of help- 
lessly looking on at it, I would also have that of its being quite 
specially difficult for me where dogs are concerned not to sacri- 
fice myself: they come very close to my heart, these creatures that 
are utterly dependent upon us, that we have helped up to a soul 


for which there is no heaven. Probably, although I need my whole 
heart, it would end, end tragically with my breaking off first little 
bits from the edge of my heart (as dog biscuits), for Pierrot who 
would be crying for you and no longer understanding life; after 
some hesitation, I would give up my profession and live entirely 
for his consolation ; you see, that would be the result a dread- 
ful and at the same time hopeless one, for things would remain the 
same, existence would be on your side, nowhere else, in a word, 
strength fails me to paint the picture further. 

So not for Pierrot. But listen to what I am thanking you for, and 
tell me yourself whether one may be sparing of thanks there for 
the Harz Journey in Winter; not the Brahms version (I know al- 
most no music) , but for the Goethe poem, which is pure splendor. 
Most learned girl, still growing in wisdom every day, what will 
you think of me when you read that I did not know until last eve- 
ning these great verses of antique moderation (for else they would 
withdraw from us into excess) . In your letter I found the one very 
beautiful passage quoted, that made me curious , that is how I 
came upon them. Thank you. 

I must tell you that only now for the first time, little by little 
and with all sorts of precautions, I am acquiring admiration for 
Goethe which, indeed as it comes to focus, is at once the greatest 
too, the most unqualified. Until a short while ago I knew only very 
little of his work, my need never turned instinctively to him, the 
great is both more accessible and more kindly disposed toward me 
at other high places ; but this Harz Journey I henceforth count 
among the strongest and purest, it is one of the most authentic 
poems: what harm could any time do it? To be sure, one may not 
turn to the commentary in which the aged Goethe returns the 
compliment of Herr "Dr. Kannegiesser, principal of the Grammar 
School of Prenzlau," that is annoying, it has no more to do with 
the self-sufficing verses than the scribbling of visitors on the stones 
of the Strassburg cathedral with the pre-eminent existence of 
that church. 

But now I will quickly tell you further that I too had an en- 


counter with Brahms, years and years ago, in Aussee. I was then 
just an ordinary boy, sixteen or seventeen perhaps, and was visit- 
ing a cousin there who was ill, which may explain the fact that one 
sat sulkily in the garden all the time and reciprocally eked out the 
boredom until it reached around the entire day. But I, as soon as 
they took their eyes off me, withdrew from this pious occupation 
and so too one afternoon tore out of the village, like something 
that had broken loose, into the Open, the Great, the Real, presum- 
ably without a hat, or at any rate, if there was one, it played no 
part. The going was rather stony up the slope, but I had taken 
such a flying start that I was as little aware of that as of any other 
resistance; I dashed ahead in such elemental fashion that my effort 
ceased to be something personal, to express it one would have had 
to say simply: it ran, as one says: it rains, it lightens. Both in fact 
were immediately impending. What convinced me of it most un- 
expectedly was a stout old gentleman coming comfortably down 
the slope, who had apparently been figuring out for some time the 
mildest way of managing our collision; to avert it entirely was, 
given the initial speed with which I had rushed out, and in view of 
the slow breadth of the man facing me, physically impossible. So 
it came about that, growling suddenly, he warded me off; he had 
reason enough to curse me, and as I looked up at him thoroughly 
frightened, I had the impression that he was very cross. But as our 
glances measured each other, for a while, this displeasure dissolved 
into a gentle buzzing that finally passed into a warning about a 
darkly gathered storm which he pointed out behind him: and 
really it was already driving threateningly from across the moun- 

Now it would be fine and proper if I had first apologized and 
then thanked him very much for the generous solicitude expended 
on me despite everything, but, alas, my memory, to be quite 
truthful, passes on to me no such details. It is more probable that, 
stammering something or other confusedly, I dodged to the right 
and stormed on like one crazy, for only now it seemed to me 
boundlessly free and almost heroic to run into this upraised storm, 


while beside me the stones were already turning pale. That is my 
story. A few days afterward they showed me the old gentleman in 
the town, on the promenade, and told me his name: Brahms. But 
I don't think he saw me (fortunately). 

To Lou Andreas-Salome Duino Castle near Nabresina, 

Austrian Littoral 
February 19, 1912 

. . . Recently I happened to be writing a few words to my 
grandmother (on the maternal side), who was beginning her 
eighty-second or eighty-third year; but what coarse material 
there; simply that it can't wear out, otherwise no mystery. I saw 
her in the summer in Prague for a moment: like ravening hunger, 
in children at table, there is in her a robust, an almost Flemish 
joy in being here, one has to put it like that; she cannot stop. 
Life has attempted violent jokes on her, but, like clowns, she never 
understood anything but the bang, and so it did her no harm. 
Even now, when my mother, who at times can scarcely walk, 
orders herself a carriage in Prague, she still manages to come down 
quickly and on foot, in the gayest mood, from her distant and 
poor suburban apartment, for the sheer physical joy of going 
along, no matter whither. To me she is alien in her joyful durabil- 
ity, the way even as a child everything in her then still rich and 
well-kept house was another world to me. (How unfamiliarly, 
I still remember, the soup spoons went into one's mouth at oc- 
casional family dinners.) For the rest, there must be in my 
mother's almost entirely used-up nature a few such firm threads 
that are still holding; it is scarcely comprehensible the way, with 
her existence all filled up with sufferings and devotions as well 
as with distractions, she retains a taste for life, is indeed just get- 
ting trustfully attached to it. If one could sometime arrive at a 
little peace and composure, it would also certainly be possible to 
understand, describe, possibly admire that and the whole unex- 

8 _ 

plained phenomenon of her personality. But in my situation this 
too proves an uneasiness to me, as so often, seeing at this natural 
place a figure so vague, for which even now, in my more ex- 
perienced heart, no sort of real feeling can be developed. 

Dear Lou, yes, after the "enough" of recently there was ample 
progress in thoughts and conditions; then some comfort came in 
the course of the week from an unexpected quarter: looking up 
the way Goethe really took Venice, I suddenly read, among the 
most remarkable impressions, the whole Italian Journey, the 
Campaign in France, the Siege of Mainz, and would have had 
no objection to its going on that way. The ban against him was 
already broken in July when I came upon the youthful, charm- 
ingly emotional letters to "Gustgen" Stolberg; but then the 
"Journey in Italy" became out-and-out moving to me by reason 
of the seriousness, the caution, the labor with which a person 
spoiled by the happiness of producing, at the border of youth 
and in contact with things so long foregone, so in the right, at- 
tempts to win for himself new, more independent incentives to 
happiness. I sometimes sensed in the reading that this manifold 
learned appropriating was not without melancholy, not without a 
feeling of farewell, subsequently, perhaps, not without despair 
and that here in his way he went through the very thing I always 
missed in him. I am amazed at how everything comes in its own 
time and is not to be forced, but then is not to be held back either. 
For the rest I read Venetian history all day, sometime I will tell 
you to what end. Unfortunately here too I begin with the disgrace 
of having clear forgotten everything I read for it earlier, gone, 
not a trace. Now farewell. Greet the sandals for me, those good 
sandals, they should not give up counting on me. 

To N.N. Duino Castle near Nabresina, Austrian Littoral 

February 24, 1912 

I know , dear child, and that is the way I took it right away, 
as you recommend, after that doubt forgot that letter, I am just 


now tearing it up, but in my consciousness it never properly ex- 
isted. I forgot it and looked forward to your next, and now that 
is here. 

I have little time, books lie open all around me, my thoughts 
will shortly want to return to them , but I want to thank you 
at once for so well and honestly going through what I somehow 
conjured up and for coming back now to communicate frankly 
with me. Surely we are not meant to set ourselves the difficult 
things; yes, be the child as which I at once addressed you and 
whom I asked to write me when she feels happy and moved to 
do so, because after all it would be utterly senseless not to give 
in to this joy. We don't know each other, but we have a lot of 
confidence in each other, that gives space enough to meet in a 
general way, yet precisely. 

And now let me say something to you. As I did your friend 
recently when I answered a letter of his, it seems to me I must 
now warn you too, in another sense, against Make Laurids Brigge. 
Do not get too involved with him, and above all never overlook 
the fact that his dejections transfer themselves as such to the 
reader only because the pure innocent power that breaks forth 
in them is accidentally (this is strictly speaking scarcely more 
than accident) introduced in the course of a downfall. That poor 
Make is wrecked by it is his affair and need not trouble us fur- 
ther. Of importance is only that the too-great should not disdain 
to consort with us so familiarly; this is, as they would have said 
at a certain period, the moral of the book, the justification for its 
existence. These journals, in applying a measure to very far- 
developed sufferings, indicate to what height the bliss could 
mount that would be achievable with the fullness of these same 

Isn't it wonderful, firstly, to be assured that love can lead to such 
strength, that in the most real sense something is meant by it which 
entirely surpasses us, and that the heart has nevertheless the daring 
to venture on this thing-that-goes-beyond-us, this storm for which 
a whole creation would be needed? . . . why do you already 
want to think further, you, before whom life still lies? Whence 


do you want to know that this inclination of your heart toward 
devotion will not find great and noble incentives to prepare hap- 
piness and ascending? Why do you want to skip over everything 
and speak of an extreme from which your whole destiny separates 
you? And should things ever really go so far that your heart 
prevails, beyond every beloved object, who knows but that you 
will have the strength then to turn this situation in such a way that 
it would all the more become a splendor for you ? 

And now I shall quickly tell you something quite different. 
Right after your big letter that time which informed me about 
Pierrot, a dog was introduced to me here that spent most of its 
time over at the farm buildings, so that I knew him only by sight. 
It turned out that his name is Peter, which after all has the same 
root and meaning as Pierrot; this, together with his good, solitary 
face, caused me to call him over frequently into the castle, and 
now he has been allowed to sit by me at my noonday meal all this 
time and to permit himself anything else that happens to strike 
his fancy. And all that in honor of you and Pierrot. I tell him, 
too, to whom he owes it. Farewell. (My books! ) 

To Alfred Walter von Heymel Duino Castle near Nabresina, 

Austrian Littoral 
February 27, 1912 

Dear Heymel, 

Again and again and each time more energetically I feel re- 
proach at not having written you yet, even if it's only two 
pages this time, you shall at least have those; for to the old incen- 
tive (a report on the success of your lectures that certainly came 
to me at your behest) a new one has now been added which, 
since it came up, has been working on me: your translation of 
the Marlowe tragedy. I scarcely know Shakespeare, have scarcely 
any prospect of ever learning English, that whole enormous world 
will probably remain remote to me : But up to now I probably 
owe to your Edward II the strongest sense of its strong existence; 


that is how I expected Shakespeare to be, I see now, and was 
surprised, from the little I then read in Schlegel's translation, not 
to find him like that. Here, in this play of Marlowe's, is the taste 
of which I had a foretaste; I read it with a great readiness and was 
amazed to what moral authority the figure of the unhappy king 
grows; that is amorphous misery, misery in pieces, broken from a 
mountain range of misery, misfortune hard and sterile and sharp 
at every edge. As in the scaling of certain mountains, one arrives 
at the heights, one doesn't know how: the going doesn't seem 
steep, it is scarcely taxing, but suddenly one is over most of it. 
And the peak that stands out bare, desolate in the indifferent skies, 
nevertheless has destiny down below it, all that is habitable and 
confusible and shut away, is in a great, cruel open region, in 
averted, self-absorbed world-space. This is immense, and one 
goes with it, before one is prepared for it, one hasn't the time to 
pull oneself together for it, it drives one along before it. I can- 
not judge, but I am sure that one could not achieve such emotion 
over it if you had not introduced the most important, most ele- 
mental forces of the original into the German: it must be a work 
that strengthened joy and zest in you while you were doing it; 
you must have felt alive and sure in it : and so it is fine that it 
is here. My Froissart has been lying open since then, I wanted 
to go over the characters in him again, but haven't yet got round 
to it. ... 

To N.N. Duino Castle near Nabresina, Austrian Littoral 

March 5, 1912 

. . . Tasso deals not with love but with a lot of half things, it 
is a disaffected, ill-humored book; that which took place his- 
torically was, I believe, more by far, it certainly ought to be writ- 
ten over again quite differently. It is probably the wavering 
between outside and inside; as with Marianna a great advance 
broke through, so also in Tasso there breaks through a renewal of 
life values which was at first sad and dismaying. At that time there 


was perhaps beginning what we see so strangely consummated 
about us now: the retreat into the internal of a world abounding in 
the external. You will understand what I mean: inner experi- 
ences flourished in the sixteenth century to such magnificence 
outside in the visible world that they could be heightened no 
further. Love and desire, revenge and hate continually found im- 
mediate, brilliant realities that represented, portrayed and soon 
surpassed them. Someone loved, his love 'was the beloved, and 
when she pensively tried on before her mirror a chain or earrings, 
this love of some person or other was augmented by that chain, 
that earring. And however much hatred someone accumulated 
within him, it 'was an increase if this hatred went into action and 
in the presence of a murder became tangible and tragic. For 
Raskolnikov the carrying-out is a disappointment : and this re- 
versal somehow took hold in Tasso and destroyed him. About this 
point his personality revolves. Just look, Petrarch could still be 
crowned with laurel on the Capitol, had it come to the crowning 
of Tasso it would have caused him nameless suffering for al- 
ready at that time there was no longer an external equivalent for 
fame . . . 

That is a long road, I hope I can someday say all this better and 
definitively; if one understood this it would lighten many things, 
and one could henceforth spare oneself many festivities and com- 
memorations in the certainty that this [externality] doesn't exist 
any more, and after all it is not so poverty-stricken to imagine 
that the burning of Rome and the beautiful sea battle of Lepanto 
can only take place now within us. ... 

To Princess Marie von Thurn 

und Taxis-Hohenlohe Palazzo Valmarana, San Vio [Venice] 

July 12, 1912 

Strictly speaking, dear friend, I haven't a single quite clear need 
besides that of writing to you, and a little too of knowing your 
opinion of my present life; but it is indescribable what a ban 


against all activity is in the air and in one's limbs, a season for 
healthy infants ; as certain magicians get the idea of pulling 
endless ribbons out of their mouths, so from my eyelids closed to 
a crack I draw meter-long strips of daytime sleep; hardly is one 
finished before a new gray or lilac starts sliding forth, and I am 
entangled in all these slowly forming sleep-ribbons, so that I am 
living as in a snarl that only draws together more tightly at any 
attempt to escape. 

This is happening oddly, my conscience is not getting better 
for it, and yet I don't want to cut right through everything and 
break out, but am just waiting along, letting it happen to me, and 
what comes takes on the habits and has the dimensions of dream. 

There is a little key lying on my table (yes, it is really still 
lying there) ; it locks the strange, big hall in the Casino dei Spiriti 
on the Fondamcnte Nuove; whenever I wish myself thither, 
I can be there, but what a lavishness, what extravagance, to wish. 

Duse, my having been at her house, she at mine, that too is like 
a mirage in the air over-stimulated by clarity you can imagine, 
we were like two characters coming on in an old mystery, spoke, 
as charged by a legend, each his gentle part. A meaning arose 
immediately from the whole and at once transcended us. We were 
like two basins one above the other forming a fountain and show- 
ing each other only how much was continually slipping from us. 
And yet we could scarcely be prevented from somehow agreeing 
on the magnificence of being so full, and perhaps at the same 
moment we thought too of the living, vertical ray that rose above 
us and fell (ever and again) and filled us so full. Cowardly as I 
now am, I hardly dared look at her; it caused me a kind of pain 
to find her so broad and robust, that stoutly grown body, like a 
setting from which at some time the stone has already fallen. The 
fear of seeing a distortion, or simply something that is no longer 
there, is to blame for my remembering almost nothing but her 
mouth, that heavy mouth that looks as though only a fate unfeel- 
ing and not its own could still move it, as for certain swords the 
hero must come, the half -god, to raise them. And the smile indeed, 
surely one of the most famous ever smiled, a smile that needs no 


space, that retracts nothing, conceals nothing, is transparent as 
a song and yet so full of added being that one is tempted to stand 
up when it enters. 

More staggering almost than the event itself was to me the 
fact that suddenly, without my lifting a finger, this meeting came 
about which for many years was almost my greatest wish. For 
some time now I have lost the precision necessary for wishing 
(wishing is target-shooting and I am under heavy fire before 
an invisible foe) , but, as at several times in my life, I uncon- 
sciously took the quiet realization as proof that I am, despite every- 
thing, on my path, otherwise this village, so often sought out on 
the map, could not have come. 

The experience with Rodin has made me very timid toward 
all changing, all diminishing, all failure , for those unapparent 
fatalities, once one has recognized them, can be endured only so 
long as one is capable of expressing them with the same force with 
which God allows them. I am not very far off work, perhaps, but 
Heaven forbid that I should be called upon (right away at least) 
for insight into anything more painful than I was charged with in 
Make Laurids. Then it will be just a howl among howls and not 
worth the effort. 

Yesterday I wrote without premeditation in my notebook: 
Alas, as we waited for help from mankind, angels 
stepped over soundlessly, in a single stride, 
over our prostrate hearts. 

Here Moissi walked in on me, suddenly, coming from Duse, 
I knew she was already expecting him yesterday; he rushed, 
burst, broke in, at first I thought it was his tempo, an inner, abso- 
lute one, but now, now I am almost afraid it is the tempo of 
Reinhardt enterprises: Heavens, what an actor he has become, I 
saw him shortly thereafter with Duse, we were standing by the 
window, she came by with her friend, Mme. Poletti (who is writ- 
ing the Ariadne for her), we climbed into the gondola beside 
her and rode slowly toward the Lido. Duse was quite magnificent 
today, of a sadness such as cloud formations can have, one in- 
terprets it as sadness, but in reality it is nothing but immense space, 

_ 65 

not gay, not disconsolate, great. Later we dropped Moissi off, 
but we remained together, I ate with them in their house on the 
Zattere, it was intimate, full of friendship, full of nearness, and 
again much meaning came out of the simplest things and passed 
into the great. Now it is late, with this I close a letter that would 
otherwise have continued quite, quite differently, but as it is, is 
more complete, for today we looked at each other really without 
fear, seriousness for seriousness, melancholy for melancholy: it 
seems we can do each other no harm. (And the world is so dif- 
ferent from Moissi.) 

This must suffice; we have telegraphed Placci he must come to- 
morrow; a thousand greetings to everyone, especially to the 
Prince and you, my dear friend, how often I think how you are 
in everything that befalls me, now again here, how without you 
nothing would have come. Your D.S. 

To Princess Mane von Thurn 

und Taxis-Hohenlohe Palazzo Valmarana, San Vio, Venice 

August 3, 1912 

Alas, dearest friend, how badly the human affects me, what 
work, what toil, when I let myself in for it: instead of helping me, 
making me a little new and guileless, it stands me on the galley, 
I row, caulk, wash ballast, and yet (Heaven forgive me) haven't 
learned it at all. I am much at my great neighbor's, the table is set for 
me every evening, I can always come, and it is a matter of course 
that I will come. She is magnificent, expressing human things more 
greatly than any other individual; she does not try to make herself 
understandable, she begins her gesture with the being understood 
and proceeds from there. We go through our gestures, half re- 
peat and repeat our lines, repent, retract, try again from the be- 
ginning; she says, shows, refuses to show herself, and right from 
the start it is all one, the whole, definitive of a higher order, as 
in the temple's pediment. What magnificence and what waste! 
No poet in all the world, and she is passing by. No one was ever 


in need of so much. So without a stage, without an instrument, 
she enlarges the raw material of everyday life; small things, quick, 
provisional happenings come to themselves in her hearing, tran- 
scend themselves, would be frightened of themselves, could 
they see themselves there, would remain, stand still, no longer 
fade away. And she is left upholding, unmoving, unrelieved, over- 
burdened, because there are never spectators enough to take 
from her the fullness of her scene; every next moment she is like a 
vineyard that is already ripe again, one would have to keep 
sending in thousands of laborers under the burden of the grapes. 

But now here is this young friend, hard, ambitious, talented to 
a certain degree, but without flexibility even in her talents, learned 
because she takes to learning, determined, but only in what is 
determinable, more an energy than a necessity; the joy of taking 
on her plays has become for Duse an unretractable promise, a kind 
of duty, the firm, young character won't give an inch, and perhaps 
even she herself, Duse, doesn't dare let go what was after all the 
hope and the effort of these last years. 

You have no idea how she has to drag all that along. I talk 
for hours with both of them, with the one as well as with the other, 
understand, ease things for the moment, come under the suspicion 
of being able to help, and yet haven't the right word, the decisive 
idea. Am still of the opinion that Mme. P. ought to go away now 
(whence recently my idea of Duino which I quickly wrote you), 
but Duse herself is pressing to leave and yet holds back, out of 
anxiety, I think, at being left alone. Voila ou nous sommes. Thank 
you for your good letter, thanks with all my heart. Your D.S. 

P.S. I shall perhaps send you through the publisher my White 
Princess, the scene I wrote thirteen years ago for Duse. We 
chanced to speak of it, she enjoys it, she would like best to have 
it translated at once, but how, by whom? Would you like to re- 
read it and tell me what impression you have of it now with 
reference to D [use] ? I would rather not touch it, it is an immature 
work in every sense, but she enjoys it for the moment, and every 
joy must be good. Once more and a thousand times your D.S. 

To N. N. Palazzo Valmarana, San Vio, Venice 

July 23, 1912 

Dear child, you see I am writing at once, your letter just came, 
and great though the distress out of which it is written, there is 
good strength in it: the heavy lament is held up so high, far out 
of the confusion, a lament in the clear. Don't interpret, don't give 
things more significance than they themselves take; don't look 
at a sorrow from the outside, don't appraise it and give it a big 
name: the "great sorrow" . . . , you don't really know but that 
your heart has grown with it, that this great weariness is the 
growth of the heart, patience, patience and do not judge in suf- 
fering, never judge; so long as it is upon one, one has no measure 
for it, one compares and exaggerates. 

It was foolish of me not to have sent you the Journal of Eugenie 
de Guerin: the book had come, I needed it myself and gave it one 
day to someone who also needed it. And yet you needed it the 
most. But it is already ordered again, in a few days it will follow 
this letter. It will do you good, this book, Eugenie is the friend 
you need now, she has perseverance through the earthly and the 
heavenly, she makes no difference between one and the other, does 
not alter her voice: so one goes on in these pages and back and 
way to the end and way to the beginning and becomes familiar 
in the whole: for perseverance, which here is long sufferance, a 
little farther along is already eternity. 

Take the cure easily, with the deliberate air with which one 
rows over a stretch of water once one has come to the point of 
having to cross. It will perhaps have its good side; keep watching, 
keep watching curiosity too, as if it were there only for the look- 
ing, then it loses its urgency and nearness, doesn't know what to 
do, becomes object-like. The time will pass, you will have ob- 
served much, observe it like Nature, there is in everything a lit- 
tle remnant of world and innocence, and even in the most arrogant 
desire to help, helplessness is pure and moving. And nothing will 
hinder what you really need from coming then, the "complete 


repose", the "letting oneself go". Describe it to your father, he 
will understand it, a wood, a clearing, a woodland meadow, a 
Nature accustomed in humanity: there I see you reading Eugenie 
de Guerin and arriving at courage and inner perspective, surely, 
surely, there are a host of loyal appointments between you and 
life, you are young, full of good will, everything will have its 

Farewell for today, many strong wishes are with you. 

I 33 3 

To Princess Marie von Thurn 

und Taxis-Hohenlohe Palazzo Valmarana, San Vio, Venice 

August 3, 1912 

Yes, it was really a little much, there came a moment when I 
was done, three, four days of being picked clean to a skeleton, as 
if ants had neatly brought all my inner structures to light, but 
by that time the two had already separated and gone, each in a dif- 
ferent direction. Duse, not knowing where to go, is on her way to 
a friend, Countess Sophie Drechsel in Tegernsee, Mme. P[oletti] 
is beginning a new life in Rome; now I have only to see to it that 
she understands I was merely the very last component of her 
past, for God forbid that she should include me in her future and 
go on building on me. Let her become what she must, I undertake 
no responsibility. 

This much is certain. Duse has gone through a great deal with 
her and will need a while to recover from this life companion. Ah, 
dearest friend, that was a lot of grist to my oldest mill; how clean 
things are that one lives through in oneself, and how between 
individuals the well-meant, what once was delightful, turns bad, 
bad, spoiled, an abomination. How sad! Moreover one of them 
was really great and the other merely young, unfinished, turbu- 
lent, wrongly started perhaps, honest in her zeal, possibly unable 
to do otherwise and then, between them the bad develops, out of 
what? like dust everywhere out of everything. I would give a lot 
if I could bring Duse to a happy thought, to the beginning of a 

_ 69 

hope, but I see I must be cautious; if one had strengths, but I 
have only a little piece of strength, big as the rosin for a fiddle 
bow, only just useful for stroking over once or twice before 
playing. . . . 

To Anton Kippenberg Duino Castle near Nabresina, 

Austrian Littoral 
October 2, 1912 

. . . My still being here is connected with the relative extent of 
the plans which more and more outweighed every other prospect 
and now at last are so far along that I myself am beginning to be- 
lieve in them and to act in line with them. I intend, that is, to spend 
this fall and as far as possible a part of the winter in Spain, as you 
will at once understand, not as a tourist who hurries, but I mean 
rather to settle down in Toledo and to live there. You know that 
Greco is one of the greatest events of my last two or three years; 
the need to deal with him more conscientiously looks almost like 
a vocation, like a duty implanted deep within; but the impulse 
toward a sojourn in Spain extends far beyond that, back into those 
Roman days when, without knowing it, I began the Malte Lau- 
rids y and over the course of the years since then, while one thing 
was fulfilled and another dropped out, this wish has remained so 
vigorous and lively to me that it is now almost the only one on 
which I can myself rely. Perhaps I exaggerate: but it does seem 
to me as if this journey would have for my progress a significance 
similar to that which the Russian one had formerly; as if it should 
bring with it the full power of much expression that has not yet 
been vouchsafed; the still waiting state in which I find myself 
since the termination of my last big work may also contribute 
to my wanting to try my hand attentively at this new thing, in 
which, I suspect, the most diverse directions of my work will 
come together. 

Added to this is an external incentive. Next year Toledo, I hear, 
is to be the scene of a big Greco exposition: not only would I like 

scrupulously to avoid this occasion, I fear that this hitherto still 
so uninterrupted earthly constellation, which is Toledo, will after 
this congestion be left changed, popularized, so that this is almost 
the last moment for surprising it in its remoteness. 

Now it goes against me, dear friend, to give in to this important 
decision without knowing that I have your full agreement; you 
will not, I believe, withhold it from me ... 

To Princess Marie von Thurn 

und Taxis-Hohenlohe Toledo, on All Souls' Day 1912 

Princess, for you the first word, let it be: hope; and if so soon 

again a wish may join in: may nothing else become clear to me for 

a long time, so that I can establish myself here in this, guilelessly 

and unrestricted. 

What it is like here, that, dear friend, I shall never be able to 
say (it would be language of angels, their use of it among men) , 
but that it is, that it is, you will just have to believe me. One can 
describe it to no one, it is full of law, yes, I understand at this 
moment the legend that when on the fourth day of creation God 
took the sun and set it, he established it right over Toledo: so very 
star-ish is the nature of this extraordinarily laid out estate so out- 
ward, so into space , I have already got all around, have im- 
printed everything on my mind as though tomorrow I had to 
know it forever, the bridges, both bridges, this river and, shifted 
over beyond it, this open abundance of landscape, surveyable, like 
something that is still being worked on. And this joy in the first 
paths that one tries, this indescribably sure being-taken and being- 
led , just imagine, I took Santo Tome Street, then that of the 
Angel (Calle del Angel) , and it brought me in front of the Church 
of San Juan de los Reyes on whose walls nothing but chains of 
prisoners or men freed hang down in rows and rest on ledges. 
P[asha] had told me in Munich he had meanwhile seen in Bae- 
deker that there is a church like that with chains , without re- 


membering having seen it himself at the time. Now the first thing 
was to find it. And then to go on, nowhere was it incidental, and 
one almost wants, at such discovery, to look around as if to see 
just who is watching, whom one is pleasing by it, as children look 
around when they learn something. 

It bothers me, if only I could strike it, the note; here for the 
first time I can conceive of going about and caring for the sick, 
daily walking through this city, one could turn in anywhere and 
unnoticed deliver oneself up there in the narrowness, so at the 
verge does this stand here, going outward one cannot get beyond 
it. But then again outside, scarcely a hundred steps before this 
unsurpassable city, it should be conceivable to meet a lion on one 
of the unconcealed paths and make him beholden to one by some- 
thing quite unintentional in one's bearing. Between these two ges- 
tures more or less, life here may lie. 

My God, how many things have been dear to me because they 
were trying to be something of all this here, because a drop of this 
blood was in their hearts, and now it is to be the whole, can I 
bear it? 

No more today, Princess. I arrived at ten o'clock yesterday, in 
Madrid (which I disliked almost as much as Trieste) going just 
from one station to the other, now it is about seven in the evening 
and the day between long as a day out of Genesis. My hotel is 
called Hotel de Castilla, passes for the best here and seems to be 

Many, many greetings to you and the Prince, where are you? 
How are you? The morning was very very cold, I was at first 
afraid at having come so late, but by day the sun fills out all there 
is of clearness. Enough, here justified weariness is closing over 
me and withdrawing me from you. Adieu, adieu. 

To Princess Marie von Thurn 

und Taxis-Hohenlohe Hotel de Castilla, Toledo, Spain 

November 13, 1912 

Dear friend, outdoors on my walks I write you the most beauti- 
ful letters, here, at home, I freeze and am a sorry pedant and put 
up with a hundred trivial and shameful things, but be this only 
noted, Heaven forbid I should entertain you with it , rather is it 
to be said (alas, there just isn't any expression for it), how much 
everything here goes on in the extraordinary, in the more-than- 
lif e-size, I simply cannot conceive how people to whom all this 
has not been intrusted so purely, so absolutely, so beyond all 
doubt, explain it to themselves , I mean: what they take it for, 
where they place it, what they inwardly do with it. "A woman of 
Heaven and of the Earth," said the Jesuit Ribadaneira (with 
whose text we smoked up Dr. R. so that his eyes literally vanished) 
of the Virgin Mary; that could be applied to this city, "a city of 
Heaven and of the Earth", for it is really in both, it goes right 
through all existence; I tried recently to make this intelligible in 
one sentence to P. by saying that it is there in equal measure for 
the eyes of the dead, the living and the angels, yes, here is an 
object that might be accessible to all three of those so widely dif- 
ferent visions, over it, one feels, they could come together and 
have one and the same impression. This incomparable city is at 
pains to keep within its walls the arid, undiminished, unsubdued 
landscape, the mountain, the pure mountain, the mountain of 
vision, monstrous the earth issues from it and directly before 
its gates becomes world, creation, mountain and ravine, Genesis. 
Again and again this region makes me think of a prophet, of one 
who rises from his meal, from hospitality, from being with others, 
and upon whom at once, on the very threshold of the house, 
prophesying comes, the immense seeing of ruthless visions : 
such is the gesture of this Nature round about the city, yes even 
inside it, here and there, it looks up and doesn't recognize the 
city and has a vision. 


And as for me in the midst of all this, I am still amazed at how 
deeply I was prepared for every detail, somehow as I felt that in 
the Salone della Ragione in Padua everything which, outside, life 
and business and distress brings with it, appears in pictures thus 
everything was there and made me accustomed, as though this 
vision were to be wholly given over to me. Just think that Cividale 
was still to come, as a promise of the Tajo, yes, that even at the 
very last someone or other was striving to tell me about a St. 
Christopher who is supposed to span the height of a whole church 
in the vicinity of Duino: while I now sit here every day in the 
cathedral beneath the gigantic Cristobal which really does reach 
to where the vaulting begins. 

Until yesterday the weather was of the clearest, and the 
pageant of the evenings proceeded in quiet spaciousness, only 
today the sky became complicated, right after midday it got to 
the point of raining, but a cold, taciturn wind interrupted the 
rain in the middle of a sentence, pushed the clouds upward and 
drove them into masses over the sun already inclining toward the 
west. And after what I have got to see in the further course of 
things, I cannot help wishing (despite my physical demand on 
warmth) for many such episodes, I have an inkling of what 
formations the atmosphere here must make use of in order to> 
comport itself appropriately to the picture of the city: menacings 
rolled themselves up and spread out far away above the bright 
reliefs of other clouds that innocently held themselves against 
them, imaginary continents , all that above the desolation of the 
landscape sombered by it, but in the depths of the abyss quite a 
cheerful bit of river (cheerful like Daniel in the lion's den), the 
great stride of the bridge and then, drawn wholly into the pro- 
ceedings, the city, in every tone of gray and ocher against the 
east's open and yet quite inaccessible blue, ah, Princess, I think of 
the sunrise you once recorded so well from the window in Duino, 
and wish that much composure into my heart, for confronting 
such objects, quiet, attentive, as something existent, looking, not- 
concerned-about-itself . . . 

Of Grecos I have seen many since then and several with quite 


unqualified admiration; but on the whole he can naturally be in- 
wardly placed only somewhere quite else; hitherto, wherever one 
saw him, he signified all this, to one who is here he is at once sub- 
merged in all that is present, is merely like a beautiful buckle that 
gathers the great vision more tightly about things, un cabochon 
enorme enchasse dans ce terrible et sublime reliquaire. 

Today your big letter, dear Princess, glorious, the way you 
translate, the way the Elegies have ebb and flow in you and 
through you for the first time really come under the influence of 
the constellations. Now I am distant enough, you see, it is not 
my neighborhood, no infection, but the spirit, about which no 
one can do anything. I am certain something conforming to law 
is taking shape there, just yield to it and don't let yourself become 
suspicious of it. Thanks for everything, for the copy of the re- 
markable pages of our Unknown, for the letter to Prince Ratibor; 
if I go to Madrid sometime, I will present it. Above all, thanks for 
all that you write, I see absolutely no newspapers here now, only 
once recently I applied my modestly growing Spanish in order 
to understand that the Bulgarian was allowed to become master 
in Constantinople, and now you really indicate something of 
the sort, dear heaven, but that is counter to all history, that Con- 
stantinople, that Stamboul, that Byzantium should thus incident- 
ally belong in with that Balkan disorder down there. (And I have 
never seen it.) ... 

Do you remember the glorious organs here in the cathedral? 
And like old arquebuses the trombone-stops stand forth from 
them; that and the grilles, the grilles: yes, if one had not come 
here, one would have said one's whole life long: "grilles, grilles", 
like a sheep, without thereby picturing to oneself anything real, 
but now one knows it, once and for all, and sees it in one's 
sleep. . . . 



To N. N. Hotel de Castilla, Toledo (Spain) 

November 17, 1912 

You see, it is not my fault ... if I am only now answering 
you, or rather my fault only in so far as the porter in Venice 
hasn't my address yet and so your letter had to come by many 
stages. But it stood the trip, this morning I received it, and if 
it hadn't come, I would have written you anyway one of these 
days, to provide the possibility of your good news (which I felt 
must be arriving soon) reaching me quite surely and directly . . . 

What you call my "world", dear child, that is at present not 
sufficient to nourish and sustain anyone; against just this one must 
take up counterweights in order to be in the whole. It may be that 
out of the fragments one little by little brings before one, some- 
time, in survey, something worldlike will be perceptible, but it 
is still a good way to that, I am just now more than ever in the 
one-sided, lament has many times prevailed, but I know one may 
use the strings of lament so fully only when one is determined 
to play on them later, with their resources, the whole joy also 
which wells up behind everything that is difficult, painful, and 
endured and without which the voices are not complete . 

You will be surprised to find me here, an old wish has at last 
put itself through, and I saw on the very first day that there is a 
great deal here 1 have long needed. Only this today, many wishes, 
many greetings and confidence for everything. 

To Princess Marie von Thurn 

und Taxis-Hohenlohe Ronda, December 17, 1912 

I long for a letter from you, dear Princess, God knows where 
it is wandering about and the last I wrote you seems quite 
vague in my memory; what was thoroughly alive in it was merely 
like warmed-up food from the one written only in thought in 
Cordoba, furthermore it bore no mark but that of my discontent 


with Seville, with myself, with myself and ten times with myself. 
Again there came a series of really irksome days, pains physically 
and the spirit so little attuned to endurance, if I had happened to 
have a "home", I would by all means have gone home, since for 
every journey, especially one through Spain, a certain equilibrium 
is required, the certainty of being able to rely on oneself, but for 
me the world collapses completely every moment, inside in my 
blood; and if then an entirely strange world stands all about out- 
side, it is a strangeness beyond measure. I have it in mind, Prin- 
cess, I must track down the cause of this malaise, discover the 
source whence evil keeps welling up; scarcely have I a little boat 
somewhere before this misery rises and overflows it and leaves it 
desolate behind. And I know that there a doctor can help, not I, 
if only he were the right one, with me everything is too much 
of a piece for me to be able to suffer at some place and accomplish 
at another, really I am not at all addicted to suffering, a pain takes 
the world from me, that is why I am so completely unfitted to be 
a saint and haven't the slightest prospect of ever spreading abroad 
this good odor. (Instead you recognized and expressed it, that was 
inexhaustibly right.) 

For the rest you must know, Princess, since Cordova I have 
been of an almost rabid anti-Christianity, I read the Koran; to me, 
in places, it takes on a voice that I am inside of, as it were, with all 
my strength, like the wind in an organ. Here one thinks one is 
in a Christian country; well, even here it is long since outlived, it 
was Christian as long as one had the courage to kill people a hun- 
dred paces before the city; thus the many unassuming stone 
crosses increased which read simply: here died so and so, that 
was the local version of Christianity. Now there is a boundless 
indifference here, empty churches, forgotten churches, chapels 
dying of starvation, really one should no longer sit down at this 
cleaned-up table and hand out as nourishment the finger bowls 
that are still standing about. The fruit is sucked dry, so now, to 
put it crudely, one just spits out the rinds. And then Protestants 
and American Christians keep making another infusion with these 
tea dregs that have steeped for two millenniums, Mohammed was 


in any case the next stage; like a river through a primeval mountain, 
he breaks his way through to the one God, with whom one can 
speak so magnificently every morning without the "Christ" tele- 
phone, into which people continually shout: Hello, who's 
there? and no one answers. 

Now just imagine, Princess, I am three hours from Gibraltar, 
five, when the weather is good, from Tangiers , tempted like 
anything in this mood, to sail over sometime to the Moors; on 
the other hand, I am afraid a whitewash of light would then lay 
itself over dark, clay-red Spain. For the present I am here in 
Ronda (since a week ago), I at once sent P. a few pictures, it 
seemed to me so very probable that the incomparable phenomenon 
of this city piled up on two steep rock-masses divided by the 
narrow, deep river gorge would confirm his dream picture; it is 
indescribable, surrounding the whole a spacious valley, busied 
with its expanses of meadow, its evergreen oaks and olive trees, 
and beyond again there rises out of it, as though well rested, the 
pure mountain range, mountain behind mountain, forming the 
stateliest distance. As for the city itself, in these conditions it can- 
not but be odd, rising and falling, here and there so open toward 
the abyss that not one window dares look that way, little palaces 
behind crusts of yearly white, each with a portal set off by color, 
and under the balcony the coat of arms with crest slightly flat- 
tened, but in the shield distinct, detailed and full as a pomegranate. 

Here would of course be the place to live and to reside quite 
Spanishly were it not for the season, were it not for my tiresome 
disinclination to let myself in for any but the most necessary 
hardships (innate and zealously assumed) , to crown it all the 
devil prompted the English to build here a really excellent hotel, 
in which I am naturally living now, neutral, expensive and as 
this person and that would desire it, and still I am shameless enough 
to spread it abroad that I am traveling in Spain. 

I tell you, Princess (no, no, you must believe me), things must 
become different with me, from the ground up, from the ground 
up, otherwise all the miracles in the world will be in vain. For 
here I see once more how much is lavished on me and just plain 


lost, the Blessed Angela had a similar experience , quand tous les 
sages du monde she says et tous les saints du paradis m'ac- 
cableraient de leurs consolations et de leurs promesses, et Dieu 
lui-meme de ses dons, s'il ne me changeait pas moi-meme, s'il ne 
commenjait au fond de moi une nouvelle operation, au lieu de me 
f aire du bien, les sages, les saints, et Dieu exaspereraient au dela de 
toute expression mon desespoir, ma fureur, ma tristesse, ma dou- 
leur, et mon aveuglement. This I marked a year ago in the book, for 
I understood it with all my heart and, I cannot help it, it has since 
become only the more valid. 

Today, when I saw these mountains, these slopes, opened up 
in the purest air as if one were to sing from them, I had to tell 
myself to what joy that would have incited me even three years 
ago, how it would have transformed me into just sheer joy , now 
it is as if my heart had moved miles away, I see many things that 
start off and go in its direction , but I do not learn of their ar- 
riving. Alas, I am not quite over expecting the "nouvelle opera- 
tion" from some human intervention, and yet to what end, since it 
is my fate, passing the human by as it were, to arrive at the ulti- 
mate, at the rim of the earth, as recently in Cordova where an 
ugly little bitch, to the highest degree prematernal, came to me; 
she was not a remarkable animal, and certainly she was full of ac- 
cidental young ones about which no fuss will have been made; but 
since we were all alone, she came over to me, hard as it was for 
her, and raised her eyes enlarged by care and fervor and sought 
my glance, and in hers was truly everything that goes beyond 
the individual, whither I don't know, into the future or into the 
incomprehensible; the situation resolved itself in her getting a 
piece of sugar from my coffee, but incidentally, oh so incidentally, 
we read mass together so to say, the action was nothing in itself 
but giving and accepting, but the meaning and the seriousness and 
our whole understanding was boundless. That after all can happen 
only on earth, it is good at all events to have gone through here 
willingly, even though uncertainly, even though guiltily, even 
though not at all heroically, one will at last be wonderfully 
prepared for divine conditions. 


How the tiniest bird voice outside affects and concerns me, 
dear heaven, would that it were spring and I were approaching 

Nature somewhere with all my senses, 1 have discovered for 

myself such a singular valley, a kind of hunting park of the Mar- 
quis de Salvatierra, scarcely laid out at all, only so rearranged that 
rabbits don't quite know their way any more, something out 
of a dream or out of the "Elective Affinities"; I take long, long 
walks , but still recognize myself most truly in the fateful co- 
incidence of the first excursion in each city, even in Seville, 
where nothing else went right, I began, God knows how, with the 
Old Men's Home of the Caritad; it was morning, in the long, 
cheerful halls the old men were sitting around the brazier or 
simply standing about finished like toys, two lay in bed resting 
from life as though they didn't at all need the extravagance of 
dying for that purpose; but on the other nicely made beds, every- 
where at the same spot on each of the flowered bedcovers, lay 
two of the enormous, pale Spanish loaves of white bread, peaceful 
in their evident superfluity, pure recompense and no longer to 
be eaten in the sweat of the brow. 

Here the church of San Francisco, outside in the southern sub- 
urb, was the first thing I discovered, I shall tell you about it an- 
other time; anyhow it is time for me to close and say Merry 
Christmas, I shall think many thoughts in your direction , news- 
papers I haven't seen, but let us hope you have no more war mis- 
givings; from the Prince's kind, good letter, which reached me by 
the first mail that caught up with me in Ronda, I see that he has 
hope and that no one really sees what good a war would do. 

Princess, your letter! That is what I call coming in the nick 
of time. I shall go right on writing without reading or discussing 
the poems now (I must first get hold of the German text in my 
memory in order to be able to compare) , for I saw that with the 
little delay in Seville your lines really took six days, and, festive 
or not, I still have the ambition that this may be with you for 
Christmas. It is frightful that the danger of war is still not out of 
the air, politics usually makes a point of being swift, it is a bad 
joke when it gets as slow as God. 


As for Seville, to the last we did not get together, not at all, 
although the Sevillians take the festival of Mary very personally 
and a whole octave of ceremonies was impending, in the beginning 
of which I was just able to participate. The cathedral was so 
fundamentally repugnant to me, even hostile, nowhere does it 
become serious, there is something vague, evasive about these 
ambitiously upward-built spires, a spirit of out-trumping that 
would like to out-trump even God and, as it were, manage to take 
him from above. And the infamous organ made the air so sweet 
with its pampered voice that the colossal pillars felt quite weak, 
it was a matter of indifference to one, this softening of stone, a 
conjuring trick, however far it might go. 

Have you been seeing books, Princess? In the evening some- 
times (I have such congestion in my eyes that I cannot read 
much) I read Don Quixote in German translation and find it 
rather childish; from an artistic point of view this book has no 
limits at all, except perhaps those that a witty, ingenious disguise 
would have in reality , and they are frivolously far overstepped. 
But Christmas: Christmas greetings to you, to the Prince, to the 
Mzell family with all my heart. Do you know that exactly on the 
night of Christmas it will be full moon: how that will go with 
your white world in its silver dress. Everything that is affectionate 
and grateful Your D.S. 

To Lou Andreas-Salome Hotel Reina Victoria, Ronda, Spain 

December 19, 1912 

Gently, without stir, it is getting toward Christmas, here too, 
let me write to you. Once more I am a burden on my own heart, 
with all the weight and with the heaviness of I know not what 
things . The last you heard of me was through Gebsattel, but I 
doubt whether he conveyed to you the right idea; the peculiar 
refraction that is effected in him is always interesting because it 
leads to new points of intersection, which then also at once be- 
come polar, attract and repel, that is, dispose , as a metaphor 


this is every time of perfect truth, but as mere news not exactly 

It is so natural that I should now look back to a year ago, when 
I also began to write to you, and it does honestly seem to me that 
I haven't moved since, except for going around in a circle , God 
knows . . . The good, generous asylums, such as Duino was and 
immediately thereafter Venice, haven't helped me along very 
far; also these so specially configured surroundings require so 
much adaptation each time, they have their existence in too varied 
alien conditions, and when at last one has got to the point of be- 
longing to them, the only thing accomplished is the lie that one 
belongs. Until into the autumn I was in Venice, upheld by kind 
friendly relationships, yet in reality staying from day to day, 
from week to week, because I didn't know where to go; finally 
out of perplexity, out of instinct, out of impulses dragged along 
through years the decision took shape to go on this journey 
through Spain, actually just for a stay in Toledo, and on arriving 
there, breathlessly exposed to the really infinitely anticipated 
which yet infinitely surpassed all anticipation, I believe myself 
already almost torn out of my dullness and on the way to a broader 
participation in what validly exists, there are no words with 
which I could tell you how beyond everything this city stood 
before me in the midst of its untamed landscape, through and 
through the next thing, that which a moment before would not 
yet have been bearable, at once chastening and consoling, like 
Moses when he came from the mountain with horns of light , 
and yet again, little by little, recalling everything in my life that 
was ever necessary, strong, pure, and reliable. But from the very 
fact that I did not stay (I was there four weeks), that the cold, 
that my old pains, the congestion in forehead and eyes, that this 
and that discomfort persisted beside so great and to me so eloquent 
a presence, occupied and distracted me, you can see that I was 
not up to what was perhaps intended to effect "la nouvelle opera- 
tion" , I went southward, I stood marveling in Cordova, I had 
rime to perceive that Seville was not for me, something drew me to 
Ronda , and here I now am and in these no less incredible sur- 


roundings am mainly expecting only a better distribution of my 
tormenting blood through the influence of the high pure air that 
everywhere comes wafting over, from the mountains pitched all 
around, into the city which for its part is steeply held aloft. 

When I wake up in the morning, there lies before my open 
window in pure space, well rested, the mountain range; how on 
earth do I manage not to have that move me within, even four 
or five years ago a sunrise on the crossing from Capri toward 
Naples could transform me from head to foot into sheer joy, into 
quite new joy that had not yet existed, that arose all along me and 
was added to everything like a spring one has found; and now 
I sit here and gaze and gaze until my eyes hurt, and show it to my- 
self and recite it to myself, as though I were supposed to learn it 
by heart, and still haven't got it and am so truly one with whom it 
doesn't agree. 

Dear Lou, tell me, how does it come about that I spoil every- 
thing , now it seems to me sometimes as if I were using too 
much violence toward impressions (which I do in practice on so 
many occasions), I stay too long before them, I press them into my 
face and yet they, by nature, already are impressions, aren't they, 
even if one very quietly lets them be for a while; au lieu de me 
penetrer, les impressions me percent. 

I take long, long walks outdoors here, for a few hours oc- 
casionally the sun is such that one can rest beside an evergreen 
oak, then a little bird voice favors me, or the roaring from the 
deep river gorge makes superfluous everything that has been and 
everything that can be. But in walking I ponder so many things, 
from the first of January on a studio in Paris will belong to me; 
I foresaw that, however this journey turns out, the most important 
thing for me will be immediately afterwards to get to an independ- 
ent place of my own, therein I was certainly right. And whether 
Paris, which has taken so much of my strength, is still necessary, 
will do me any good, time will have to tell. I know one mustn't 
leave a plaster on all one's life because it once did good, also I 
would rather not go back to Paris if possible before the worst of 
winter is over. 


I must tell you, Lou, I have a feeling that what would help me 
would be an environment similar to that I had with you in 
Schmargendorf , long walks in the wood, going barefoot and let- 
ting my beard grow day and night, having a lamp in the evening, 
a warm room, and the moon, as often as suits it, and the stars, when 
they are there, and otherwise sitting and hearing the rain or the 
storm, as though it were God himself. When you get around to it, 
dear Lou, think about it and take note of whether you see a place 
where that could be done. I sometimes imagine the Black Forest, 
the region of Triberg, Rippoldsau, then again I think of Sweden, 
as it would be at Ellen Key's for example (but I would rather 
not be "at" anyone's) or near her by a lake in the woods or near 
a little university city in Germany; for to have books, preferably 
a person too with whom one could learn something, would natu- 
rally suit me. Do you know whether it is true that the Books of 
Moses in the original text are something completely different from 
what both the Greek and Latin translations contain? I have read 
remarkable books by that curious Fabre d'Olivet (beginning of 
the i pth century) to whom this discovery gave the incentive for 
reconstructing a whole Hebrew grammar (the way altogether 
his whole life was consumed in preliminary work for a gigantic, 
never begun main project ); here I am reading the Koran and 
am amazed, amazed , and again feel a desire for Arabic. Could 
I carry that on with your husband, if by any chance Gottingen 
for example should come under consideration I am talking at 
random, you see, and to that there are no limits. . . . 

c 403 

To Lou Andreas-Salome Ronda, January 6, 1913 

"Actually he had long been free, and if something kept him 
from dying, it was perhaps only the circumstance that he had al- 
ready once overlooked death somewhere, so that he did not have 
to go on toward it, like the others, but back to it. His destiny was 
already outside him, there in the convinced things with which 
children play, and in them it perished. Or it was rescued in the up- 


ward glance of an unknown woman passing, at least it put its trust 
there at its own risk. But even dogs ran past with it, uneasy and 
looking back to see whether he wouldn't take it away from them 
again. But when he came before the almond tree in its blossom, he 
was startled nevertheless to find it so completely yonder, wholly 
gone over, wholly occupied there, wholly away from him; and 
he himself not precisely enough confronting it and too dimmed 
even to reflect this his own being. Had he become a saint, he would 
have derived a serene freedom from this condition, the infinitely 
irrevocable joy of poverty: for thus perhaps did Saint Francis lie 
consumed, and had been enjoyed, and the whole world was a 
pleasant savor of his being. He however had not peeled himself 
clean, he had torn himself out of himself and given away bits of 
peel as well, often too had held himself to an imagined mouth (as 
children do before dolls) smacking his lips, and the morsel was 
left lying. So now he looked like refuse and was in the way, 
however much sweetness might have grown in him." 

This I wrote this morning in my notebook, you will perceive 
whom it concerns. Yesterday came your good letter. Yes, the two 
elegies are here , but I'll be able to tell you by word of mouth 
how small and how sharply broken off a piece they form of what 
was then put in my power. Circumstances and strengths as at the 
time when the Book of Hours began : what all wouldn't have 
been brought to light. If only <we see each other ^ dear Lou, that is 
now my great hope, my support, my everything as always. I 
often tell myself that only through you am I linked with the 
human, in you it is turned toward me, senses me, breathes on me; 
everywhere else I come out behind its back and cannot make my- 
self knowable to it. 

Greet the Beer-Hofmanns warmly for me (and Kassner) and 
comfort me in your heart, oh you. 

Kippenberg Hotel Reina Victoria, Ronda, Spain 

January 7, 1913 

, . . I have behind me a few very bad weeks; nevertheless 
I have remained here, for air, lodging and diet could nowhere be 
more pleasant. My indispositions are not due to the climate, are 
only a new chapter in this singular overcoming or renewal which 
my entire nature, I must believe, is having to accomplish in these 
years; my most hopeful insight is more or less this, that in the 
physical as in the spiritual, the same thing has been going on 
since the "Make", a digging-up process in the entire soil of my 
being whereby the uppermost gets to the very bottom: times, 
when it would be most propitious to have no consciousness what- 
soever; for the continual revolution of such processes cannot there 
express itself otherwise than as torment and a being exposed. The 
appearance of the Elegies last year has drawn me a little into the 
confidence of that which, unutterably slowly, under pretext of 
such great devastation, may be ordering itself, and in the worst 
days I do still keep finding a remnant of patience, not patience 
with myself (that is long since used up), but patience toward 
God, if one can put it that way, a quiet resolute desire for his 
standard of measurement. 

It is indescribably much, dear friend, that you, on the grounds 
of I know not what trust, are in these difficult enigmatic years 
putting me in a position to be patient in this sense, to require 
nothing of my nature, so that it can pursue, where I myself do not 
disturb it, its inner and averted activities in all their disguises. If 
I am destined to reach the next phase of my existence, I shall be, 
thanks to this protection, more sound and more complete in it 
than I ever was. As concerns the present journey, it actually has 
difficulty in distributing itself over inner conditions so disturbed 
and uneven, nevertheless I am not for a moment in doubt that it is 
the very thing to do the most urgent service to these changes, in 
that it draws certain regions, lying there as of old, into the realm 
of these movements. . . . 


To Annette Kolb Hotel Reina Victoria, Ronda, Spain 

January 9, 1913 

You should know, dear Fraulein Kolb, that the December num- 
ber of the Rundschau did not reach me , just last evening I re- 
ceived another , but now I can assure you, by no means quickly 
enough for my need, how beautiful, how consummate, how mas- 
terly the close of the Exemplar is. If I were not at this confounded 
distance, I would send into your house all the flowers I happen to 
see, just to do something that equals my joy and emotion, for 
words are too remote and critical here, such things should remain 
in suspension and in suspension communicate themselves. 

You have accomplished something remarkable there, one can 
well say, achieved it cleanly and without residue; that which you 
intended is there, indeed, the crucial point is that along with it is 
realized what we can neither know nor will nor intend, that melan- 
choly and blissful More about which we can do nothing, grace, 
or however one might call it, something homeless between God 
and ourselves which, without asking just where it is, finds repose 
with him or with us. 

Something I suspected right from the beginning, there is a dis- 
covery in this book, one effected not with instruments and calcu- 
lations, one for which the moment had simply come to the great 
attentiveness of your heart, had fallen due, not to be ignored, as 
Tycho Brahe just could not help, one evening on the way home, 
seeing the new star in Cassiopeia. Nothing had preceded it but 
his long, inquisitive gazing, secretly fostered through nights, into 
the fulness of the constellation, whose throng had thereby un- 
consciously fallen into such order that the new star entered as 
though someone with a light walked into his tidied room. 

In matters human I can never help thinking right on to the 
saint (in whom for the first time everything becomes compre- 
hensible and necessary to me) , but I am able to understand through 
Mariclee that (as people have occasionally assured me) the saint 
is no longer in the same measure exemplary and illuminating to us, 

as at certain periods he was in the highest degree; that it interests 
us rather to trace what effect this expenditure has on God when, 
instead of collecting himself there, he unnoticeably distributes 
himself in the relationships of the here and now, a more incon- 
spicuous but no less great task. In their intensity, devotion, fervent 
absoluteness those two months of Mariclee's existence are a saint's 
life; when the book comes and I have my books once more around 
me somewhere, I will place it in this neighborhood: close by the 
Portuguese Nun and Angela da Foligno. 

I would almost like to entreat you not intentionally to become 
further initiated and involved in the literary, in the metier, car ce 
beau livre, ce n'est pas de la litterature, c'est un etat de grace tout 
simplement : cela ne vous suffit-il pas? Of myself another time, 
Spain is incomparable, but I could wish for it another season and 
state of health. . . . 

I 43 3 

To Princess Marie von Thurn 

und Taxis-Hohenlohe Paris, Good Friday, March 21, 1913 

Your letter was an elixir of life, your beautiful letter (and 
thanks for all its news), but everything works slowly on me now, 
I shall reread it often; for the present, a quelques exceptions pres, 
I am going about really depressed, somehow amazed that the new 
beginning, new as it is, fits so exactly on to the old end on which 
a year and a half of absence has settled merely like a little patina. 
What, now what would have to happen to me, to make me feel 
it? Duino, Venice, Toledo that gripped my heart so violently, 
all that is past now, like any interruption, like a bit of deep sleep 
in the open. God knows: is it due to the vehemence with which 
Paris takes me in again, takes possession of me, sucks me into 
itself, into the midst of its existence; though sad, though be- 
wildered, though not to be envied, outside in walking I occasion- 
ally feel a smile on my face, a reflection of this wide and open air, 
just like one of the houses shimmering at the end of the street, 
brightly, brightly, notwithstanding perhaps that the saddest thing 


is happening in it. What reality in this city, I marvel again and 
again at how pain stands there, misery, horror, each like a bush, 
blossoming. And every stone in the pavement is more familiar 
to one than a pillow anywhere else, is a stone utterly and entirely, 
hard to the touch, but yet as though descended from the stone 
that Jacob pushed under his head. La mort du pauvre qui expire, 
la tete sur une de ces pierres, est peut-etre douce quand-meme. 

You ask about Marthe: I have seen her only twice, the first time 
however for a whole night. It was mi-careme, two days after 
my arrival, I went out to Sceaux, Frau W. was away, so I went 
into the park and knocked at the studio of the Russian. He himself 
appeared at the door, a little, blond, Christlike peasant, surrounded 
by the vague immensities of his already darkening studio; we 
didn't know each other, I said my name, a pure smile fought its 
way through his face, he called my name breathlessly upward as 
a bird does his soul, a high curtain to the right was clutched from 
within and impatiently thrown open, Marthe rushed out, for- 
ward inclined like a deer, a golden headband about her temples, 
in a quaint, Tanagresque garment , but quite swallowed up in 
the bigness of her own eyes . It turned out that she wanted to go 
in to Paris, to dance; all day she had done nothing but wash and 
comb and dress herself, and always, as she told me, with the pre- 
sentiment that it was not for the ball for much more. The night 
was sad, I took her to the Bullier, we missed the last train to 
Sceaux, my rooms were not in order, so till morning we loafed 
about in the streets and in inhospitable cabarets, in barbarous sur- 
roundings (my maladroitness in knowing nothing better!). She 
had insisted on going barefoot in her sandals in order to be prop- 
erly Grecian: that gave her something improbable, touching 
(something as of a beggar-girl in Heaven); at the Bullier and 
on the street where, enveloped and draped in her tunic, she stepped 
with strangely little steps over the confetti lying there and whirl- 
ing like colored snow, they looked at her surprised, embarrassed, 
* I would even say with a kind of timid respect. So different was 
she from all this world of obstinate and cheap amusement. Among 
all those more or less scabrous girls she looked like a little dying 


maiden who will be a saint a few years after her death. They took 
her for a little woman, they scarcely dared speak to her, she 
seemed to have fallen from a very high nest that she will never 
find again. She was not much troubled at dancing so little, she 
needed only to talk and to eat endlessly. She was hungry, she ate 
with difficulty and effort, with despair, like a ghost that is 
materializing. And at the same time she wanted to leave that 
world and enter completely into my eyes and into my ears; she 
bent over me like a little girl on a lake, desirous of finding her 
image there even at the risk of drowning in it. She spoke much of 
her life, of her so provisional life, so incomprehensible, and that 
no event causes to advance. She lives with this Russian like a sister, 
she says, immensely relieved not to love him, for "the woman who 
loved him he would drag about by the hair". He is a savage, a 
Mordvin, a Siberian, good and terrible, who makes the people he 
loves decidedly unhappy. The Mordvin language, his own lan- 
guage, possesses only a few words for the most elementary ob- 
jects; speaking rather little Russian, he has created for himself, 
since he had to leave his country for political reasons, a mixture 
of his idiom and Italian (having lived a few years in Milan), an 
imaginary language with which Marthe seems very well ac- 
quainted. His vast studio, a part of which serves as sleeping quar- 
ters, is in such disorder that one would doubtless call it a land- 
scape if it happened to be out of doors. One sleeps on pallets 
among piles of things strewn there and forgotten. Marthe, very 
proudly, showed me hyacinth bulbs that have begun to sprout 
among the covers in the innocent warmth of her poor feet. 
For the moment, the Russian has a few amateurs who are inter- 
ested in his work (I remember having seen a Christ on the Cross, 
gigantic, expressing, with that musical disquiet the Slavs introduce 
into sculpture, the final agony), he has some money, but his 
kindness and his negligence cause the pennies to disappear with the 
rapidity of running water, days and nights, they use them with- 
out any organization whatever, they sleep from time to time, they 
eat rarely, only he smokes all the time since he has lived abroad in 
exile, from nostalgia. Marthe, while profiting by this irregu- 


larity that must seem ideal to her, nevertheless perceives that it is 
difficult to walk in the mire of liberty. I think she suffers a great 
deal, that she is using herself up, also she told me she no longer 
wants to accompany the Russian if he goes to Italy now as he 
proposes. She sees no existence for herself, for the moment she 
goes about on the back of this other life like the little heron of 
Egypt that lives on the backs of cows. Having worked since she 
was four, doing all the little tasks that fall between the chinks of 
professions, she sees no further work to broach and all roads seem 
closed to her by the heavy shadow of the "boss" which one has 
to pass through with closed eyes if one wants to arrive at profit- 
able and lasting jobs.* 

And I, you understand, Princess, know nothing to advise, can 
just simply let it go along and from time to time go there; I am 
neither the man of experience who can with composure be help- 
ful, nor yet the lover overtaken by the inspiration of his heart. I 
am not a lover at all, it moves me only from without, perhaps be- 
cause no one has ever shaken me utterly, perhaps because I do 
not love my mother. Very poor I stand there before this rich little 
creature, in whom a character less cautious and not quite so im- 
periled (as I have been for a while) could have found endless de- 
light and unfoldment. All love is exertion for me, something 
achieved, surmenage, only in relation to God have I any ease, 
for to love God means to enter, to walk, to stand, to rest, and to 
be everywhere in the love of God. 

Marthe has been here for five minutes, she knocked softly as 
though this writing about her had attracted her; she was sick, had 
been lying somewhere at one of her sisters', since at Erzia's no one 
gives her anything to eat; she has quite lost her voice, pretend que 
"le sang lui etait monte a la gorge". I have the impression that she 
was pretty sick. I have put in her hands ClaudePs "L'Annonce 
fake a Marie"; she is reading, quite far off, as always when after 
a long time she gets to a book. She must read a while longer before 
I take her with me to lunch, for I must quickly tell you further: 
that Monday I lunched with my good and great Verhaeren and 
with Romain Rolland I accepted (by way of exception) because 

_ 9* 

Verhaeren is already leaving , well, Remain Holland made such 
a sympathetic and humanly significant impression on me, that I 
strongly urged him to visit you sometime in Duino. He is just now 
going to Italy again, to Rome, but to work, wants to see no one, 
it seems, so it will not be this time, unless Placci (who also hap- 
pens to be in Rome and who naturally knows R.R.) stages a visit. 
One must not expect an artist, but even without being told his 
name one would be strongly and particularly struck, wherever 
one met him, by this man who looks up so clearly out of a 
courageously achieved sincerity. I had the impression of sitting 
opposite a tireless reader, whose glance, every time his scholar's 
eyes became exhausted and worn out in his books, God, by some 
special favor, freshly painted with the purest blue of his child- 
hood; we took to each other with some warmth and curiosity; 
Verhaeren was magnificent, it was a by no means superfluous 
lunching, you would have enjoyed it. 

Now I must close. Rodin is sick at the moment, otherwise bet- 
ter, and the frightful Mme. de C. is no longer around; unfortu- 
nately the end came about for quite a miserable reason, I had 
hoped it would come more from within and would be more con- 
vincing and more real for him. This fantastic Paris, everywhere 
in the house the opinion persists that this American woman had 
operated with some Indian poison with which she spiced Rodin's 
milk! Now with God's help, she's over. 

Farewell, Princess, remember me cordially to the Prince, to P., 
etc. Today and yesterday I am hearing old Italian music by the 
singers in St. Gervais. Vittoria, Palestrina, Ingegneri . . . 

To Princess Marie von Thurn 

und Taxis-Hohenlohe 17 rue Campagne-Premiere, Paris 

April 17, 1913 

... I am thanking you at once for your good eight pages 
which, as one read them, became even fuller; after this I seem 
to myself excellently informed about all of Europe, only of the 


danger of war between France and Germany, with which my 
femme de menage runs the broom through my rooms every 
morning, you make no mention in your bulletin: so I assume 
things don't look as bad on that score as ordinary people here 
imagine for the spice of it. 

No, as regards Jean-Christophe, I shan't protest any more. (So 
you have read it all, including volume ten! ? ) I am near the close 
of the fourth, and the further I get, the more patience and clem- 
ency I have with this small and badly printed paper, ce n'est 
pas de 1'essence de rose, certainement, mais c'est une tisane qui a 
eu le temps d'inf user et qui, si on la degoutte avec lenteur et aban- 
don, arrive parf ois a vous rappeler la douce intimite de la petite 
fleur bienheureuse. The various females turn up quite spontane- 
ously and sturdily, and each time there are a few rich moments 
before the character makes itself at home in the genre setting. 
The episode headed Sabine comes within a hair of being a great 
work of art (Volume III, L' Adolescent, page 71; as it is, it has 
the unqualified and arresting attraction of certain portraits. (See 
gallery at Brescia where I would have preferred to stay all the 
time before the one old lady with the dog, which hung high above 
a door.) Meanwhile I have returned Romain Holland's visit; was 
at his house recently in the evening for a long hour, in the little 
work room, au quatrieme, with the view over three old monastery 
gardens. There is an air of crampedness about his place, a little 
spinsterish (I exaggerate, but a shade in that direction) and dis- 
creetly quiet. We spoke actually like people who have known 
each other a long time, without first trying ourselves out on 
one another with every possible broken surface. Got to discuss- 
ing music; on his piano lie a series of little black notebooks, filled, 
as he showed me, with his own neat, almost Japanesely light nota- 
tion; he set up one of them in front of him and played me a piece 
of ancient music, an epitaph, full of mourning that finds its com- 
pensation in the great. Then a spring melody, taken from a 
Gregorian mass, just as brief, just as monodic, knowing no exag- 
geration, but reducing something really infinite to a proportion 
that is calmed and in itself complete (and therein still quite in the 

_ 93 

Greek tradition). Judge for yourself, R.R. noticed how it moved 
me, sent me next day the copy (which I enclose here and which 
I shall ask back at your convenience). It will also interest the 
Prince, you will try it with him perhaps. Give him all my love. 
By the way, did he ever get the "Salve" I had sent to him from 
Ronda? I believe he was in Petersburg just then. He should not 
write me, by heaven, but if he has it, I shall enjoy hearing his 
opinion of it sometime when we meet again. It seems more bar- 
baric to me than the fragment from the mass of St. Margarita of 
Cortona. . . . 

To Lou Andreas-Salome Insel-Verlag, Leipzig 

July 22, 1913 

(Right after the departure from Gottingen. Lou: ) 
At moments I feel as though, with everything that you know 
and are, I were slowly beginning a new life, I can repeat nothing 
to myself and cannot communicate at all how thoroughly in order 
everything is, but I feel it going around in my blood day and 
night, lovingly. 

If only I could still make it good or at least just quietly let 
things take their own good course. If, instead of all the external 
aspects of the time, which mislead me, I could keep in view this 
inner world of serene crystals which are not disturbed by any- 
thing accidental, in which only the pure revolving of constella- 
tions turns inward to lovingly centered activity. 

To look off and gently let one's glance have its way where one 
is facing certainties. . . . 

To Ellen Delp Ostscebad Heiligendamm 

Thursday morning (August 14, 1913) 

Lou's daughter, Ellen of the morning, 

Isn't it quite natural now once more to confuse you with the 


sun which has shone exceeding generously into these shoes? (I'm 
doing it again, without thinking.) 

But it is almost disgraceful, lazy, to get up at seven and to find 
before the door how much bright time there has already been for 
doing purest day-work. 

Concerning the cherryblossom-flower, I picked one recently 
in the Bollhagen marsh (of the little woodland before Heiligen- 
damm) , contemplating it all day, taking it with me: so astonishing 
to me was its way of being white out of sheer meadow-green, 
white with green blood in its heart ; my guess is a little swamp 
anemone, led thereto by the anemone-ish leaf down on the stem, 
which is attached curiously low, and yet already knew down 
there that higher up it would come to this little creature, for 
which it probably forms a shield or even merely a broadened 
conduit for the too much moisture of the meadows, the thoughts 
of which are here distracted for a while, so that the flower above 
can meanwhile come to its white, which required a trace of dry- 

The roses are beautiful, beautiful, rich and, as they stand there 
so, glorify one's own heart immeasurably. 


I 471 

To Eva Cassirer Hotel Marienbad, Munich 

September 17, 1913 

Even before I read it, my dear, I rejoiced in the ampleness of 
your letter; how could you think you would tire me with it. That 
I am replying only with a little is due to the unrest of present cir- 
cumstances , in all periods when I have to give myself out at- 
tentively and accurately in the spoken word, as here again too, 
written expression leaves me, so that even where there might be 
time for writing, I could scarcely manage a real letter. But I am 
grateful to you for talking to me somewhat of your inner cir- 
cumstances, I cannot read them, dear friend, without the feeling 
that the Tolstoy letters I am sending you today will absorb you 

_____ _ 95 

most aptly. As far as people are able to inform one another about 
the ebb and flow of their life feeling, it has happened in this cor- 
respondence, the boundaries of help are marked out and look 
very narrow in comparison with the whole of our existence, and 
yet, within these limits what greatness of desire to love. This cor- 
respondence is one of the most sincere and hence purest tes- 
timonies of inner intercourse with others and with oneself, the 
figure of Tolstoy emerges from these pages more direct, more 
moving than I ever realized; what the personal contact with him 
conveyed, his not being able to do otherwise, his being right be- 
hind all error, all this, which moved me so utterly that time, 
streams over to one from these pages, not overheated, just with 
the natural warmth of a man toilingly and joyfully alive; let it 
act on you, I am sure it will release the dispositions in you for 
which you are waiting and which after much previous accom- 
plishment are closer perhaps and more tangibly at hand than you 
are able to estimate. 

You are right about Werfel; though solitary, he nevertheless 
creates out of what is common to humanity, rather than out of 
Nature; but it often strikes one the more deeply, the way he gets 
at the elemental, at the almost inorganically ruthless, steps out of 
the room immediately into the all and endures it; occasionally I 
marvel at him; then again I admire him with all insight into the 
achieved, with the wonderful freedom of the artist who after all 
can find repose only there where he sees another successfully ac- 
complishing the ultimate. The Carrion Way I had just read in the 
Rundschau, it has magnificent spots, perhaps it lacks a final con- 
centration, I would have been tempted to give something similar 
in four stanzas. . . . 

To Lou Andreas-Salome i 7 rue Campagne-Premiere, Paris 

October 21 [1913] 

I cannot be entirely unhappy with all the understandings into 
which, so far out above us, so deep behind us, you have given me 


insight , but I am so, just as much as I can be, very heartily. You 
have shown me that I am still somehow the same, even the same 
in a more fortified way, that actually none of my old possibilities 
are laid waste or lost, perhaps they are really all there, only that 
for a while I don't know how to use them. 

Paris this time was just as I had promised it to myself: difficult. 
And I seem to myself like a photographic plate which is exposed 
too long, in that I still lie open to what is here, this powerful in- 
fluence. My room was full of last June, waiting, threatening to 
make me work off in living everything I had then begun. From 
fright I went right off Sunday to Rouen. A whole cathedral is 
necessary to drown me out. Provincial France always has some- 
thing soothing for me, there are so many old houses there in which 
I mentally play at being at home as I pass by, and then when I 
look at them, they really are mostly for rent. 

Will you believe me that the glance of a woman coming along 
a quiet street in Rouen so affected me that I could see almost 
nothing afterward, could not collect myself for anything? But 
then gradually the magnificent cathedral was nevertheless 
there, the legends of its densely filled windows where earthly 
happening becomes transparent and one sees the blood of its 

I believe I can stay in Paris only if I imagine myself to have 
come here quite without responsibility for a few days, taking 
things casually, as they come: in my neighborhood some very 
young people have opened a theater that proposes to do old and 
new things in a clean and honorable way, so I can carry on the Hel- 
lerau metier; if only I succeed in remaining as hidden as possible, so 
that I may get used to myself again, in the fine old sense: content. 
A little reading, resting, looking out, I would be satisfied with 
everything were it only wholly mine again, without flowing out 
into longing. I am frightened when I think how I have been living 
away from myself, as though always standing at a telescope, as- 
cribing to each woman who came a bliss that was certainly never 
to be found in any of them: my bliss, the bliss, once upon a time, 
of my loneliest hours. I can't help thinking so much of the poem 


from the New Poems which, I believe, is called "The Stranger", 
how well I knew what it comes down to: 

"To let all this go ever undesiring," 

and I who only went on desiring . To begin again. Indeed, even 
with a school notebook it helped then to open a new page; this one 
here, Paris, is now really full of the most humiliating mistakes, 
red on top of red, and where one remained absent of its own ac- 
cord before or changed its mind, there stands the final correction 
across a spot erased almost completely through, on the thin skin 
of a hole. 

Dear Lou, somehow you have indeed helped me infinitely, the 
rest is now there for me and for the angel, if only we hold to- 
gether: he and I, and you from afar. . . . 

To Frau Helene von NostitZ Paris, 17 rue Campagne-Premiere 

November 4, 1913 

... I cannot help thinking continually of Duse, whether 
money couldn't possibly still be quickly got together in Germany, 
where anything can be put through now, for a Duse-Theater? 
Still, still, I say to myself almost daily, if it were possible, even 
today, even tomorrow, and for how much longer; perhaps a real 
call, the news that here is a theater which, just as it is, belongs to 
you for six months, would suffice to intensify in her all the 
strengths that are still there : is she then, who had such a begin- 
ning, before whom, even when they carried her to her baptism, 
the guard presented arms, is she then to go under thus in mist 
and smoke? It leaves me no rest that she is lifting her hand some- 
where now, somewhere now perhaps is exposing her grieving face 
to someone on whom it is lost, is smiling on some animal a smile 
we ought all to see; that there at some unrecognizable place es- 
sence of tragedy is constantly pouring out of a vessel that is really 
only upset and not yet shattered. How full of trifling all these 

98 _ 

theaters are compared to the task, to the mission laden with which 
this woman goes. Do speak sometime to Geheimrat Martersteig. 
Tell him how I found her last year in the weeks in Venice, strong 
nevertheless, again and again strong, willing to perform the play, 
the Ariadne of her friend Poletti, this play that had grown up 
under her eyes, on every word of which, even while it was com- 
ing into being, she tested her speech, whether it rang in her : 
would he think it entirely out of the question for someone to 
undertake, to venture, while there is yet time, to propose to Duse: 
Come, play this "Ariadne"? 

The less other commitments to a bigger or longer season were 
tied up with such a proposal, the more possibility would seem to 
me to exist that Madame Duse, once in the theater again, would 
feel moved to do other plays, that one might suggest to her for 
instance the plan to play the Virgin Mary in the "Passion" of the 
Greban brothers (about 1450) ... I can never forget the way 
she spoke of going across the stage once more, "tranquille, mais 
bien armee", as she said and I understood: departing across the 
stage: as the sun after all can dip under only in the west, so she 
can go away only across the boards: shouldn't this be procured 
for her at a time when means and possibilities are so much more 
readily and flexibly available to this person and that? . . . 

To Reinhard Johannes Sorge Paris 

December second, [1913] 

Today I am sending you my promised prose book and the Life 
Of Mary; the poems ("Emmaus" and "Journey to Hell") came 
into being last spring and so far have drawn after them nothing of 
kindred nature. 

I am also sending back to you your copy of the "Song of Love"; 
one surmises the pure splendor, but 'what does a casual translation 
like that allow one really to perceive? Moreover, as research has 
long since established, no love song by St. Francis exists. A poem 
of that sort belongs to Jacapone da Todi, to that great minne- 


poet of our dear Lady Poverty. For a long time it was ascribed to 
Francis, it begins: 

Amore, Amore che si m'hai ferito 
Altro che Amore non posso gridare; 
Amore, Amore, teco so unito 
Altro non posso che te abbraciare. 

Unfortunately I have no edition of Jacapone here to go on quot- 
ing. But you do feel the massiveness of the stanzas here in contrast 
to the hollow translation: this beginning would run more or less: 

Liebe, Liebe, wie konntest du mich verwunden, 
Nichts kann ich schreien, als die Liebe heissen; 
Liebe, Liebe, mit dir bin ich verbunden, 
Nichts konnend, als dich in die Arme reissen. 

The copy you took from the Manz edition gives a piece of work, 
bungled in any case, drawn up from various hymns and poems of 
that (but also of a later) period, and I cannot conceive of its hav- 
ing satisfied you. I will not conceal from you that in the point of 
view of the believer I see a danger to the accuracy of feeling which 
has otherwise been of such decisively great concern to us. When 
I consider that I might today become a practicing Catholic, where 
is the church that would not offend me with the paltriness of its 
pictures and representations; it would have to be a little tumble- 
down chapel, such as I found in Spain which no modern hand 
arranges or touches any more. In St. Francis' time, to be sure, this 
was the soil on which art put forth its tenderest and freest blos- 
soms. To come into contact with the church today means to be- 
come indulgent toward incompetence, toward the sweet phrase, 
toward the whole immense expressionlessness of its pictures* 
prayers and sermons. Bossuet could still express something tre- 
mendous within the church; and the really intense emotion 
aroused by the figures of Christianity was able endlessly to evoke 
in hearts new greatness and evidence for new hymns: but, I can- 
not help it, such exaltation and such fullness would not fall back 
into the boundaries of the church, but would always descend far 
above all that is human. 


Perhaps I am mistaken; I wrote this in case indulgence on your 
part toward bad, approximate, inadequate expression (merely 
because it might be "Catholic") should actually exist. This would 
have made me anxious, not for your heart, but for the witness it 
was artistically determined to bear. 

C5' 3 

To Princess Marie von Thurn 

und Taxis-Hohenlohe Paris, December 27, 1913 

This will sound curious, but nevertheless I am crying out: dorit 
come, Princess, don't come, and that is not jealousy of the Lady 
del Giocondo that makes me cry out so (I don't want to see her at 
all) ; but I have taken a vow not to look at anyone, not to open 
my mouth, except inwardly ; if you came, I would either have to 
adhere to this imposed condition, which would be absurd or if I 
did abandon it, I am afraid, Princess, that I would travel right off 
again or would speak to other people too once I allowed myself a 
single lovely, lovely exception. I am in a cocoon, dear friend, there 
is a floating as of gossamer in my room, enveloping me with every- 
thing I am spinning out by day and by night, so that already I am 
no longer recognizable. Wait, please, please, for the next butterfly; 
you saw in the fall in Berlin how sad and revolting the caterpillar 
was, a horror. If in the end no butterfly comes out, all right too, 
then I shall stay put in this fuzz and quietly dream by myself of the 
grandiose Mourning Cloak I once had some prospect of becoming. 
If I don't take flight, someone else will, the Lord wants only that 
there be flying; whoever happens to see to it, in that he has only a 
quite passing interest. 

Laugh at me, Princess, or scold me. Do both, I am an exasperat- 
ing bird, here I sit on my perch, all molted and shabby, my feathers 
are flying into my own bill, and this shameless bill is crying to you: 
Don't come, don't come, as a New Year's greeting. Naturally 
there is a bit of vanity involved too, that you should see me 
thus. . . . 

Dear Princess, here is one of those newspaper pages with a re- 


pulsive illustration, it is the only one I have seen in the Schrenck- 
Notzing case, and, truly, it is indeed nauseating enough. The book 
I haven't ordered, the bookseller sent me notice of it upon its 
publication, I thought it over , but for me all that really isn't the 
right thing. (You yourself can imagine what the right thing is.) I 
will gladly answer to any spirit; if it has the expanse and the need 
to break into my life, then it will also have something sensible to 
say of which neither of us need be ashamed; but to scatter this 
spirit-sugar, so that God knows what spirit-rabble cast off and 
tabooed over there may slink up and, just like the savages dragged 
here from Africa, trick us with rites and mysteries that belong to 
no world at all, that is unsavory and clouds up this world and the 
next with its dregs. You feel that this is not to disparage the 
"Unknown"; she had expanse, and even if I never hear from her 
again, yet she will remain to me something undefined somewhere 
and in communication with everything in us that stays undefined. 
But not even with her would I like to make the slightest attempt to 
attract her, does not immeasurably much that is immaterial flow 
continually into our spirits; what prevents her from letting herself 
be carried along into my innermost soul, what from entering this 
high room in the evening under pretext of some noise? Isn't even 
this curiously lifelike portrait of a woman hanging here, portray- 
ing I know not whom, out of whose blackish background, that by 
day is dull and spoiled, ever new darkness seems to come along at 
night, feeding and deepening the high chamber? No, despite the 
crystal gazer's solemn assertions, I do not like this metier and shall 
take care not to lead my meager waters into those dubious 
channels, perhaps to have them idle themselves completely away 
into a swamp and play bubbles and will o' the wisps in the bad 

But you, Princess, are invulnerable, for you know something 
of these things, are not dependent upon your feelings and do not 
let yourself be fooled by any spirit, because you also know spirits 
from within and can judge how much more helpless and limited 
one may be that tries to work on us from without. I can well 
imagine it would be strange for you if you and the Prince sought 


out Schrenck who, formerly, at least, must have been a not insig- 
nificant figure. Although the slightest experience of one's own, 
once one does want to experiment, would help infinitely more, 
I should think, than what goes in for such motley sensationalism 
at so irritated a spot. 

Is Kassner with you now? Do give him all my cordial affection. 

I see no one, it has frozen, there has been glare ice, it rains, it 
drips, that is the winter here, always three days of each. I have 
had quite enough of Paris, it is a place of damnation, that I have 
always known, but formerly the pains of the damned were ex- 
pounded to me by an angel; now I am supposed to explain them to 
myself, I find no very laudable interpretation and am in danger of 
subsequently making mesquin to myself what was once greatly 
conceived. If God has insight, he will soon allow me to find a few 
rooms in the country where I can rave quite in my own way and 
where the Elegies may howl out of me at the moon from all sides, 
however they please. With that would belong the possibility of 
taking long solitary walks and exactly the person, the sisterly 
person! ! ! (alas, alas) who would look after the house and have no 
love at all or so much that she asks nothing but to be there 
functioning and protecting at the border of the invisible. Here the 
substance of my wishes for 1914, 15, 16, 17 and so forth. 

But for you, dear Princess, for the Prince, I have a special corner 
of my heart in readiness that is very full, may Heaven preside over 
whatever wishes are there. 


your D.S. 

To Thankmar 

Ear on von Miinchhausen 17 rue Campagne-Premiere, Paris 

December 27 [1913] 

See, I wanted to cut the leaves of the poetry volume for you, so 
that it would come to you rather more personally, more browsed 
in; but the weeks pass, and other things have been giving me no 

respite. But since you knew D., it will be warmed for you even 
this way by personality, his: DeubePs. 

Am I mistaken in thinking that in the introduction, which I 
read, the stress falls on the wrong place? Or, if his life is really to 
be read with these accents, I miss a harmony sounding through it 
which, as all the conjugations are over, ought to be felt in its now 
final life-infinitive. 

I wonder, in view of such impressions, whether, whatever the 
misery among us, the line of the poetes maudits didn't end with 
Pauvre Lelian; for in the end, in this most singular of callings, 
benediction preponderates, it simply prevails, that everyone must 
concede. Hence there arises something arbitrarily distorted, no- 
longer true (to our eyes), when one wants reproachfully to ex- 
pose misere (cette misere reveche qui s'entete) and at the same 
time to make it into a constructive element of a poet's existence. 
We simply don't know what need destroys in a heart, what it 
erects. Constructive it is in no case, at most the scaffolding that is 
hung with rags, behind which the final stones may at times arrange 
themselves and deliberate. But then one must also allow it to be 
pulled down quietly, when it is no longer absolutely necessary, 
instead of giving importance to planks and boards, together with 
the placards and posters which little by little have taken over the 
place. In the right is only he who leaves the door open for heur 
and malheur, so that each can come, but also go, as it must. To 
accustom misery to oneself, daily to give it the sugar from one's 
coffee, so that finally it is lying under every table and won't leave, 
is to inculcate in this phantom a training contrary to its ruttish 
nature. As a poet one should not make even detresse one's beloved, 
but should transfer all affliction and bliss into one's work, and 
one's external life must be stamped with one's refusal to undergo 
either of them elsewhere. Something like that is what occurred 
to me in reading the introduction, I scarcely got to the poems, they 
will probably speak for what I mean, at least most of them. . . . 


C 53 3 

To Eva Cassirer 17 rue Campagne-Premiere, Paris XI V e 

January 2, 1914 

Yes, Tolstoy's correspondence with Countess Alexandrine 
Tolstaia has been for me the point of departure for much inner 
preoccupation and agitation; now I have seen from your good 
letter, dear friend, that it is acting in you too, be content with that 
to which it stimulates you; it seems to me you need not wish any 
more at all (how much comes up, testing and recognizing itself 
by this reading). 

As for those letters, it is wonderful in itself that two human 
beings are able to maintain themselves over a period of almost fifty 
years in real divergence, continually reshaping and renewing in 
the spaces of their distance apart the constellation of their 
relationship, so that, beyond all reversals and upsets, they yet re- 
main to each other, if not comprehensible, at least accessible 
through unconfused love and moving through a hundred facets 
of the heart. In her introduction Countess Alexandrine tries to 
understand and every so often has to admit that she cannot do so: 
that gives the impression of pettiness, but is only a light coating on 
the deeper truth of that relationship which, like all human relation- 
ships, proceeds in the unjudgeable and reaches into the realm of 
opinion almost solely with that which expels. An aunt of 
Tolstoy's, on whose estate I stayed for a time, spoke quite simi- 
larly of him , for his "well-meaning" relatives he had sides which 
did him harm and by which they felt hurt and menaced as by 
personal atacks. 

You are quite right that here in these words two who are "just" 
often contend with one another; Tolstoy indeed did everything 
to be such a "just man", and it was the "saint" in him, as well as the 
poet, that retrenched. To me, in this sense, the just man would 
appear to be one who, on the way to saintliness, suddenly takes 
notice of his time, takes it seriously, resolves to check it as in itself 
unjust, one, in short, who applies to the immediate the resources 
that are probably meant to lose themselves functioning out 


into the infinite: a task which fell to the Gospels too and which 
always, where it is due, will be full of hardship: for where the 
divine settles directly on the petrifactions and calcifications of 
human life, how could it be other than hard, a basic steel hardened 
in white heat, driven in by the sure hammer of truth. If, as I under- 
stand it, the just man is this saint who has almost prematurely 
exhausted himself on the temporal, Tolstoy could pass as a 
particularly clear example of such a phenomenon and yet: when 
one met him (I saw him very quietly in 1899 in Moscow, the next 
year on an unforgettable spring day on his estate ) , when one 
met him : I doubt whether I am able sufficiently to assure you 
how preponderantly the other then emanated from his being, the 
pure, the angelic Tightness that gives no heed to the time and shines 
right through and out beyond it, overtaking it once and for alL 
The very thing you find in a high degree in Dostoievsky, in whom 
it also increased so that finally he might contemplate even the time 
(in his "Diary of a Writer"), because he did not interfere in order 
to stop it, did not stand in its path to persuade it, but rather in- 
terpreted it as an extremely temporary image for the infinite 
happening, the scene of which, for a while by God's measure, has 
been left blank in our inner existence (a divine decree intending to 
develop it at the darkest place) . But I see from your question about 
Prince Myshkin that you do not know Dostoievsky's perhaps 
most beautiful book, The Idiot: so it may be a little additional 
Christmas greeting from me to you, it will place in your heart a 
wonderful figure in which, once one has it, much of thought, that 
would otherwise be lost in one, precipitates and remains; in such a 
manner that with the figure of the Prince there is given one of 
those receptacles, of which great art has produced a few, cups in 
which the soul's purest rain keeps gathering, fruits that ripen in us 
to such sweetness that we must believe in the mildness of our 
innermost climate. 

Kassner, I surmise, is neither the "saint" nor the "just man", but 
rather one who has insight into both, equipped therefore at certain 
moments with a superiority that cannot entirely avoid the appear- 
ance of presumption; for it does not dawn on us right away that 


anyone might "have insight" into the saint. But the human mind 
may naturally do this too. Kassner, for moments, is able to view 
the saint from the place from which, I will not say God, but a 
god would see him, and so he is in a position to see through him. 
He will be able to give us the most fabulous conclusions on the 
inner origin of the saint, on the nature of the anomaly that he is; he 
will betray him; which would be irresponsible in an age when the 
saint was still visibly projecting his influence into the visible world; 
now he has deserted his being's previous organization, it lies there 
uninhabited, one may set foot in it and look about amid the most 
astonishing architecture, in which for centuries the human heart 
has tried its bearing power and audacity. The existence of the 
saint among us has not been abolished; however, he will have to 
found new colonies for his spirit, or, if he does not want to make 
up his mind to this, it may be that the time of wandering has come 
for him once more, which will unfold for him (whom fame so 
little becomes) countless possibilities for a penetrant conspicuous- 

To Frau Helene von Nostitz 17 rue Campagne Premiere, 

Paris XI V 
January 23, 1914 

Thank you, yes, for both letters, which came safely into my 
hands, each with many friendly good things. 

On February 4th then my thoughts will go in your direction; 
about coming, alas: I now know definitely I must not stir from 
here; however little may for the present outwardly result from 
it, in my innermost it is sure to bring about something, this obsti- 
nate retirement; at last my room is again beginning to be com- 
pletely filled out of myself, at last I am again on the way to being 
able to imagine nothing that could be more inexhaustible, greater, 
more spontaneously-blissful than my solitude, and notice only 
now how very indifferent and alien it had become to me in the 
last bewilderedly truant years, how I suddenly expected every- 

thing from people and nothing more from it, this solitude which 
after all, since the boundlessly frightful pains of childhood, had 
given me all that was greatest, all that was always too great. 

So I shall not stir, though I might wish and wish more and more 
intensely that the rooms were quite elsewhere, in the country, that 
the place were no longer Paris; every going out depresses me and is 
inimical to me; God knows, I have lived up this city and must 
shortly look about for a ruralness that will allow one to live apart 
and wander beneath big skies; easy it will not be, since all countries 
are possible and none probable, also I would then need someone to 
devote herself to me, cook for me, understand me and yet make no 
demands, in short an inconceivable creature that God will cer- 
tainly not have made, and should he even now bring her quickly 
forth, she would first have to grow and thrive, and while that goes 
on it will become too late. 

It struck me as particularly sweet that in both letters you 
mention Make and even want to have read from it the passages 
concerning Charles the Bold. This book is beginning to be wonder- 
ful to me again, I could write about it as about that of a stranger, 
for all that is beautiful in it I have a big heart; how much had to 
happen for it to be there one day, my boundless childhood, so 
much will of course never accumulate again, even if one were to 
have decades more to achieve under the most unspeakable suffer- 
ings and most incomprehensible blisses. 

Duse, I read in the "Figaro" of her illness in Viareggio, conva- 
lescence beginning under the care of Isadora Duncan; for writing 
her I lack the inner security, one would have to stand there like 
an archangel, in order to incline toward her pain with an un- 
troubled smile . That nothing could be done I foresaw, I spoke 
about it here with Verhaeren recently . Even with Reinhardt 
nothing could have been attempted, certainly not; he was the very 
one who did not want to take hold seriously that time when Duse 
herself had written to him. It would seem to me he is another 
person now, caught in other plans, intentions and purposes, 
carried along by the breadth of his undertakings, no longer in- 
dependent. Comme tout change, "viene meno" et on ne sait pas 


quand on diminue .... Cest toujours cela qui m'effraie le 
plus. . . . 

I 551 

To Helene von NostitZ 1 7 rue Campagne-Premiere, Paris 

January 27, 1914 

... As I telegraphed you, Gide, whom I saw yesterday, knew 
of a newspaper report which was immediately afterward re- 
tracted. Besides that, I saw at an acquaintance's a letter of 
R[odin]'s written on the list, in which he told them that he felt 
"malade un peu" and would remain a few days in his room (there 
was no talk of going to bed) . 

I experienced, even now again, a real compulsion to go straight- 
way to Meudon, and you mustn't think that any petty touchiness 
is keeping me from it; a feeling like that I would easily overcome, 
if I were able to entertain it at all toward Rodin. But that in itself 
really unimportant incident of last spring seems to me, when 
I think back, like a place at which the actually existing sickness 
of our present relationship clearly emerged, so that one could 
see how no real benefit was to be gained from it at present. 
Our intercourse was in fact unhappy and unfruitful, at least 
measured by that powerful necessity out of which it had formerly 
arisen and out of which it seemed always to shoot up into new 
healthy sprouts. This too is one of the curious limitations within 
human approaches, that it seems denied us, or at least surpasses 
our strength, one day to experience half, conditional, lesser things 
with someone with whom we have known how to get on in the 

To this is added a kind of cowardice or perhaps merely caution: 
since I am now maintaining myself on so narrow a rim of calm and 
on it trying, sleep-walking rather than walking, to reach a place in 
my inner being on which I might quietly settle down to all kinds 
of confident achievement, every diversion into the external is fate- 
ful for me: fateful to see again places like Meudon, or even just the 
rue de Varenne, which I cannot glimpse without everything in me, 
disintegrated by sharp memories, assuming another structure, 


stopping, stiffening and, if at all, only slowly taking shape again in 
other forms. 

Where feeling determines, one should not raise such mis- 
givings, but I have behind me so many years that are lost or at 
least have almost eluded me, that I am now ruthlessly living toward 
a certain inner ownership and feel equal to drawing into my 
obstinate isolation only what I can immediately resolve and turn 
to use and nourishment for myself. 

Beyond this I hope that after all there is no cause at present for 
real concern; haven't you tried writing a word to R. himself, 
perhaps you will receive the most reliable reassurance by a line 
from his own hand. 

The cold which had the mastery here for two weeks seems 
since yesterday to have broken, perhaps this too will be to the 

I was at Gide's yesterday, though I don't go out otherwise and 
don't see anyone, because I translated his "Retour de Fenfant 
prodigue" some time ago and needed a few bits of information on 
passages doubtful to me. The translation is to represent Gide in 
the Insel-Biicherei, that work is beautiful and characteristic of 
him (long a favorite of mine) . 

To Hedivig von Eoddien 17 rue Campagne-Premiere, Paris XVI e 

February 23, 1914 

. . . For about two months a book has been out (a French one) 
which I won't positively say will bring into absolute accord all 
those who take part in an evening's reading: on the contrary, it 
seems to me just designed to be understood and felt in the most 
varying ways, yes, so manifoldly that almost all the spectral colors; 
of judgment could be present, in which case the final pure sunlight 
of mutual undestanding could be charmingly recomposed at the 
close. Marcel Proust's "Swann" is actually no book for reading 
aloud either; two passages prohibit that straightway, quite in- 
cidental ones it is true, which take up only a few pages, but even 


if one skipped them, I don't know whether, with the indescribable 
wealth of ideas, spiritual analogies and intimate joys, someone 
reading aloud would be able to broaden himself sufficiently to 
keep all that present side by side ( and not just in sequence) . I like 
to imagine that life at Wendthof passes spaciously so that your 
summer friends, one after the other, would find the leisure quietly 
to go over Proust's book, and that only then would the memor- 
able evenings begin in which one person or another would read 
aloud what especially struck home to him out of the inexhaustible 
pages and would hold it out in a specific way to the general 
opinion: I am convinced that not alone would there result a many- 
sided and entertaining consideration of Du cote de chez Swann, 
but also to many a one his own childhood would appear out of 
half -oblivion, and one would pass from tale to tale far into the 
summer night, but also far into the mutually true, rich and 
alive. . . . 

C J7 3 

To Princess Marie von Thurn 
und Taxis-Hohenlohe Hotel Subasio, Assisi 

May 18, 1914 

Here, dear Princess, cornes with the utmost tardiness, a report 
on my last ten days; to tell anything sooner, the least bit, was be- 
yond my resources, every atom in me was made of a heavy, dull 
dumbness, so too nothing came of the good refuge in the 
mezzanino; for I would have had to see the Valmaranas and 
through them this person and that, to feign an alive exterior, to 
speak, to act sympathetically, all of which was quite beyond my 
strength. So, as the heavy, numb object that I was, I made myself 
travel here right away Friday, have been here in this good loveli- 
ness since Saturday morning before last, but, God forgive rne, so 
closed and averse to every possible benefit that between me and 
these companionable surroundings no commerce and no joy takes 
place. II f aut que je me remette, que je me retrouve, ce sera long et 
je ne crois pas que cela passera ici. 


No, sometimes when I look out through a little hole in the wall 
of my apathy into the real, just for a moment, I am amazed at 
how far I now am from the "poverello" que nous importe le bon 
coeur de cette petite bourgade d'Ombrie, Saint Francis, that is a 
lot, but it no longer encompasses us; poverty is one thing, tangible 
as a stone and just as hard, but since then money has become in- 
corporeal, far transcending tangible possession, a vibrant, all- 
pervasive element, almost independent of the possessor, an atmos- 
phere to which there is no longer any contrast. Now it is a 
question of finding the new poverty for this new "wealth", all that 
having withdrawn far into the invisible; one can of course always 
outwardly imitate being poor, but real poverty must be born again 
anew inside in the soul and will perhaps not be Franciscan at all. 

All this does still move us here, and ten years ago, with the 
imaginative joy of youth, I would have attuned myself to it, 
now, to agree here even for a moment, is pure imitation of feeling 
and in the deepest sense sterile. Alas, if this still lived from its own 
flame and were not only kept up from heart to heart laboriously, 
how different would be the intensity in the intimate lower church, 
in which the Giottos maintain an inexhaustible nearness to that 
saint's life. How ashamed and excluded and utterly out of place 
the mere spectator, the observer, ought to feel there, whereas it 
works excellently to go about simply assuming an artistic point of 
view, one is remarkably little affected in this grottoed darkness, 

that / am not might easily lie with me, but even so I see only 
inquisitive people about me, and even if I didn't shudder at them, 
I would not ascribe to expressions like "lovely" and "charming" 
any high degree of inner warmth. . . . 

To Reinhard Johannes Sorge Paris, June 4, 1914 

. . . The concern I expressed once before now seems to me 
too almost superfluous; if you know you are quite capable of 
carrying out every movement and portrayal of your heart within 
the adopted and passionately acknowledged enclosure, if even 


ultimate words and last cries still have room within the compass 
you call the church, it is natural that you should find unrestricted 
in it all the mobility for which your being is designed. Even at our 
first meeting I did not conceal from you that my case is different; 
in the purely spiritual realm, if one conceives it very broadly, the 
church may be an immeasurable compass, the greatest earthly 
one, which, along an almost invisible track, passes over into the 
eternal ; but where someone (such as I) is committed to a making 
visible of the spiritual, then art must clearly strike him as by far 
the greater life periphery (as the one that leads him farthest into 
the infinite) : for otherwise he could not allow himself to follow 
its laws and forms into those works that have originated outside 
the air of Christian faith and are even now, here and there, 
originating in purest validity. That within the Christian church 
ways to God of most blissful ascent and of deepest achievement 
can be trodden, we hive the prodigious evidence of the saints' 
lives and besides them many a strong and sincere enduring, perhaps 
in our immediate neighborhood. But this conviction and experi- 
ence does not exclude in me the certainty that the most powerful 
relationships to God, where there is need and urge for them, can 
develop in the extra-Christian spirit too, in any struggling human 
being, as all Nature, after all, where it is allowed to have its way, 
passes over inexhaustibly to God. . . . 

C 59 3 

To Lou Andreas-Salome 17 rue Campagne-Premiere, Paris 

June 8, 1914 

Here I am once again, after a long, broad and heavy time, a time 
with which once more a kind of future is past, not strongly and 
reverently lived out, but tormented to death, till it succumbed (in 
which no one will so easily imitate me). If sometimes in recent 
years I might make excuses for myself on the grounds that certain 
attempts to get a more human and natural footing in life itself mis- 
carried for the reason that the people involved did not understand 
me, had inflicted on me, one after the other, violence, wrong and 

harm, thus causing me bewilderment, I am now left after these 
months of suffering with quite a different verdict: having to see 
this time that no one can help me, no one; were he to come with 
the most warranted, most spontaneous heart, and proving himself 
clear to the stars and enduring me however difficult and stiff I 
make myself, and holding the pure, the unerring direction to me, 
though I were to break the ray of his love ten times with the 
cloudiness and density of my underwater world : I would still 
(that I now know) find a means of exposing him in the whole 
fullness of his ever-welling help, of imprisoning him in a region 
airless and loveless, so that his aid, unusable, would grow overripe 
in him and wilted and horribly atrophied. 

Dear Lou, for a month I have been alone again and this is my first 
attempt to come to my senses ; you see what state they are in. 
One will perhaps have learned many things from it, so far, in- 
deed, I notice only this: that once again I was not equal to a pure 
and joyous task in which life stepped over to me once more, 
innocent, forgiving, as if it had had no bad experiences with me. 
Now it is clear that this time too I flunked the test and will not be 
promoted and will be left sitting for another year in the same 
pain-class and daily will have the words written for me, all over 
again, on the blackboard, the same ones whose blurred vowel 
sounds I thought I had already mastered to the ground. 

What finally turned out so completely to my misery began with 
many, many letters, easy, beautiful ones that came rushing from 
my heart; I can scarcely remember even having written any like 
them. (That was the time of the exuberant "S", you will recall.) 
In these letters (I realized more and more) a spontaneous liveliness 
sprang up, as if I had hit upon a new full welling-up of my most 
intimate being which now, released in inexhaustible communi- 
cation, poured itself over the blithest declivity, while I, writing 
day after day, felt at once its happy flow and the enigmatic repose 
that seemed most naturally prepared for it in a receptive person. 
To keep this communication pure and transparent and at the same 
time to feel or think nothing that would be excluded from it: 
this all at once, without my knowing how, became the measure 


and law of my activity, and if ever a deeply troubled person can 
become pure, I became so in those letters. The everyday and my 
relationship to it became to me in an indescribable fashion sacred 
and responsible, and thence a strong confidence seized me, as if 
now at last the way out of the lazy being-dragged-along in the 
always fateful had been found. How much, from then on, I was in 
the process of changing I could also note from the fact that even 
what was past, when I happened to tell about it, surprised me by 
the manner in which it emerged; if, for example, periods were 
concerned of which previously too I had often spoken, the accent 
fell on formerly unheeded or scarcely known places, and each 
one, innocent as a landscape, as it were, took on a pure visibility, 
was there, enriched me, belonged to me , so that for the first 
time I seemed to become the owner of my life, not by interpretive 
appropriation, exploitation and understanding of what had been, 
but simply by that new truthfulness itself which flowed through 
even my memories. 

June 9, 1914 

I am sending you, dear Lou, this sheet of yesterday: you under- 
stand that what I described there is long past and lost to me; three 
unachieved months of reality have laid something like a strong, 
cold glass over it, beneath which it becomes unpossessable as in a 
museum's showcase. The glass reflects, and I see in it nothing but 
my face, the old, the last, before last , which you know so well. 

And now? After a useless attempt at being in Italy, I returned 
here (two weeks ago today), intending somehow to busy myself 
up to the ears; but I am still so dull and benumbed that I cannot do 
much more than sleep. Had I a friend I would ask him to work 
with me every day for a few hours, at no matter what. And when 
at intervals I think with the heaviest heart of the future, I most 
readily imagine rather a kind of work that is disciplined from with- 
out and is removed as far as possible from productivity. For I no 
longer doubt that I am sick, and my sickness has gained a lot of 
ground and is also lodged in that which heretofore I called my 
work, so that for the present there is no refuge there. 

I am slowly reading in your Bergson and can follow from time 
to time; am reading Stefan George's strange new book (The Star 
of the Covenant), passed an afternoon recently with Maeter- 
linck's essay on the Elberfeld horses. (Have you read it? Neue 
Rundschau, June number.) In this connection it occurs to me, in 
Duino, where I was also for a while, another experiment was made 
with spiritualistic writing, through the same person, and the 
result this time too was extremely remarkable. After several mani- 
festations in foreign languages Arabic, Greek, the same being 
seemed to re-establish itself, and indeed with such vehemence in 
its return that the medium could finally manage it no longer and 
went about for three days with pains in the arm. . . . 

To Lou Andreas-Salome 

[Paris, June 20, 1914] 

Lou, dear, here is a curious poem, written this morning, which I 
am sending you at once because I spontaneously called it "Turn- 
ing", because it depicts the turning which probably must come if I 
am to live, and you will understand it as it is meant. 

Your letter in response to the dolls I sensed in advance, surmis- 
ing that one would come and with something comforting, with a 
somehow ordering impression. And so it was. Yes, I understand 
exactly what you discern there, even the last sentence, which 
"words" do not achieve, even that last sentence about the doll's 
becoming one with the physical and its most horrible fatalities. 

But isn't it frightful that one should have unsuspectingly written 
down something like that, dealing under the guise of a doll 
memory with what is most intimately one's own, and then quickly 
laid aside one's pen in order once more to live out the weirdness 
limitlessly, indeed as never before; until every morning one was 
parched with the tow with which one's hide was stuffed, through 
and through, right up into one's mouth? 



"The road from inwardness to greatness goes through sacrifice." Kassner 

Long he was victorious in gazing. 

Stars fell to their knees 

under his wrestling glance. 

Or he gazed kneeling, 

and the fragrance of his earnestness 

wearied a something divine 

so that it smiled at him, sleeping. 

Towers he gazed at so 

that they were afraid: 

building them up again, suddenly, upward, all in one stroke! 

But, how often, the landscape 

overburdened by day 

lay at rest in his silent perceiving, at evening. 

Animals trustfully stepped 
into his open glance, grazing, 
and captive lions 

stared in as into inconceivable freedom; 
birds flew straight through him, 
the open of soul. Flowers 
gazed back into him 
* big, as into children. 

And the rumor that there was one gazing 
moved those less visible, 
more doubtfully visible, 
moved the women. 

Gazing how long? 

For how long already with fervor foregoing, 

imploring in the depth of his glance? 

When he sat, waiting, abroad; the inn's 

diffuse, averted room 

morosely around him, and in the avoided mirror 

again the room 

and later from his tormenting bed 


debate was held in the air, 

debate impalpable 

upon his sensible heart, 

through the painfully shattered body 

his nonetheless sensible heart, 

debate and the judgment: 

that it did not have love. 

(And forbade him further ordainment.) 

For gazing, see, has a boundary. 
And the more gazed-upon world 
desires to prosper in love. 

Work of sight is done, 

now do heart-work 

on the pictures within you, those captives; for you 

overcame them: but now do not know them. 

Behold, inner man, your inner maiden, 

this, won from 

a thousand natures, this 

creature, now only won, 

never yet loved. 

(June 20) 

To Thankmar 
Baron von Munchhausen Assumption of the Virgin, 1914 

[Hotel Marienbad, Munich, August 15] 

Your mother could have done nothing kinder than to send me 
the envelope, in which I now hastily enclose this greeting, with a 
couple of verses from the early days of this appalling August. 

... I had already learned of the fine chance for you to take 


part as an officer in the activity of this world-year; nobody has it 
harder than the man who remains behind inactive: will he be at 
all able to grasp the new time to come afterward, that will be so 

Now your unsettled plans have been taken off your shoulders 
by a settled common destiny I can imagine that this is an un- 
forgettable joy, thus all at once to be involved in One power and 
One emotion, especially after the many-minded times that have 
long since confused and wearied all of us. 

To Anna 

Baroness von Miinchhausen Ascension of the Virgin, 1914 

Hotel Marienbad, Munich 
[August 15] 

Who: who would have thought it! And now one thinks nothing 
but this, and everything former has become as it were immemorial, 
separated from one through abysses and heights of no longer feel- 
able feeling. . . . 

The high heart of all those who are out there must sustain us 
over the still water of not-knowing and not-grasping which some- 
times threatens to engulf even me. 

To Anna 

Baroness VOn Miinchhausen Pension Landhaus Schonblick, 

Irschenhausen Post Ebenhausen, 

Isartalbahn, Bavaria 

August 29, 1914 

. . . If I could only send him something soon again from a more 
uplifted heart; he is riding forth there so bold and gloriously- 
young, really it is wonderful, this ancient knight's destiny upon a 
young man of today, unawares. 

Gradually I am beginning to find my having stayed behind in 
the rear of so much break-up bewildering and vexatious: in the first 

days my spirit went along with the general current, could in its 
own way join in; then, as one unspeakably isolated, I remembered 
myself, my old heart as it had been hitherto (which I cannot give 
up), and now I am having a very hard time finding, by myself, 
across this span, the valid and if possible somehow fruitful attitude 
toward the monstrous generality. Happy those that are in it, 
carried away by it, drowned out by it. 

Until now I have, in spite of circumstances, lived according to 
my plans; was in Munich to confer with and be treated by my 
doctor, came out here Monday on his advice; but this is now the 
most unendurable of all, to side with unsuspecting Nature and take 
care of one's self. While I am trying it, an impatience and a dis- 
content are growing in my breast which I shall not long be able to 
stand. Probably I shall go back to Munich after all and then to 
Bohemia to my friends there: to see if I can't make myself some- 
what useful from there and leave "convalescing" and "getting 
strong" for later, until we (when?) are across the terrible 
mountain-range in the unforseeable future which no one can 
picture to himself. 

The Holderlin volume is a comfort now; wonderful, that these 
poems live and reach to one's heart through all the tangle of 
apprehension. I read the Hyperion too with keenest participation: 
how much it sounds like what is happening to us, and yet from the 
start goes far beyond it, forming pure clouds above the war and 
above love. . . . 

To Lou Andreas-Salome Landhaus Schonblick, Irschenhausen 

September 9, 1914 

How often, dear Lou, in this monstrous August, have I known 
that there was just one place where one might really survive it: 
with you, in your garden; for if one can imagine two people to 
whom this unsuspected time brings exactly the same suffering, the 
same daily horror, we are they how could we help it? 

Thus I felt your telegram and understood it more deeply than I 


can say, but still I don't at all know how to answer its questions 
right away, so little have I yet considered what one might go on 
to do of one's own initiative. Since this fortnight out here in the 
country I have really been hesitating, from the very beginning, 
only between two decisions: going back to the city, or, if it is 
really a matter of recuperating, taking the cure at Ebenhausen, 
where at least baths, sunbaths, etc., would be at my disposal. Just 
staying in the country is, this year particularly, a half-hearted 
business, since one lacks the simplicity of mind to be with Nature; 
her influence, her quiet penetrating presence is outweighed from 
the start through the mere thought of the nameless human doom 
that is happening irresistibly day and night. I would almost have 
gone back to Munich; but then Clara wrote that she wanted in any 
case to come back with Ruth for the opening of school, which 
would be around the end of this week and so I hesitate, for she 
hasn't much money and if I am to help her I can most easily do it 
from here, where I need little for myself and each week exactly the 
same. My arrangements with Insel-Verlag, which looked so com- 
forting, are not exactly canceled, but, as Kippenberg told me in 
the end, they hold only "when possible". That of course is already 
a good deal, for how much has not become simply ////possible. 
Freiburg, for example: a gleam of probability finally fell upon the 
plan, when we were considering everything in Leipzig, that I 
should attempt certain studies there in the Schwarzwald air, not 
too far from Paris, near Colmar and other lovely places. I would 
like, even now, to choose my next abode with these intentions in 
mind which incidentally, imagine it, greatly surprised and 
pleased Stauffenberg, who in the back of his mind wanted and 
planned something very similar for me. The good man had pre- 
pared himself for me as honestly and fully as it is possible to do 
through my books and from his own most sympathetic attitude, 
so that what we said seemed merely the continuation of all the 
inner intercourse with me which had long been natural to him. 
Against this background it was not easy, in the continually dis- 
turbed present, to find the composure for our talks, but the time 
he always found, whole hours, even when work in the hospital 


was piling up around him on all sides; then he would come to 
me or we would quickly arrange for a walk together. The re- 
sult? He kept trying to get to the region in which he believes 
he has particular authority, and we did walk across it now and 
again, only that all digging and hoeing and real work there re- 
mained out of the question. With terror I sometimes felt a sort 
of spiritual nausea which he was trying to bring on; it would be 
awful to throw up one's childhood like that in fragments, awful 
for a person who is not committed to resolving the unconquered 
part of it within himself but exists quite particularly for the pur- 
pose of using it up in converted form, in discoveries and feelings, 
in things, in animals in what not? if need be, in monstros- 
ities. At one of his thorough examinations Stauffenberg dis- 
covered an old pulmonary lesion, harmless and unimportant in its 
way, and from then on there was at least something definite to 
warrant his dealing strictly physically with me, which made 
things easier for both of us. ... 

Dear Lou, this is about how things stand with me. Write me 
about yourself, what you may be thinking. Herewith a few pages 
written in August, chiming in with the universal theme. How 
one's own looks in with it, what it will become because of it, 
I am but slowly understanding I keep thinking, as with ap- 
proval, of those who have died in these last years, and that they 
no longer had to grasp all this from here. Write me; meanwhile 
I shall see better what is to be done. 

C t s i 

To Thankmar 

Baron von Munchhausen Pension Landhaus Schonblick 

Irschenhausen Post Ebenhausen 
September 17, 1914 

. . . Your dear mother writes me that you never got [my let- 
ter], I have been considering whether I would copy the poems 
for you again, and cannot bring myself to do it; for they date from 
those very first August days. (Where are they?) Then we all 


threw ourselves into that suddenly set-up and opened universal 
heart; now wherever each separate one of us may be we have 
probably to survive and endure the contrary: the rebound from 
the universal heart into our surrendered, deserted, unutterably 
own heart. I am filled and shaken by the thought, my dear fellow, 
how much alike all our positions may be, yours, restlessly riding 
out there, and ours, restless, here. For what is apparent external 
security when there is all this life and death extremity in one's in- 
nermost being? 

I have as yet seen no one who understands, save Lou, in whose 
letter day before yesterday were a few lines of divining insight, 
by which I am now trying to go on, alas, to feel my way. 

My dear boy, we shall survive it! And then it will be one power 
more in us, and our heart shall have grown more mighty through 
it and all that we can feel more holy and more pure and more 

To Prince Alexander von 

Thurn und Taxis temporarily Pension Pfanner, 

2 Finkenstrasse, Munich 
October 4, 1914 

The mournful news that has reached me, only now, by round- 
about ways, awakens in me the most melancholy chords of re- 
sponse and an immediate need to be with you and really sharing. 
Believe me, in these lines I am utterly so. In my feeling there is 
often something of the truth and beauty of a son's submission 
toward you and the Princess, that you know: thence I can under- 
stand what you are now going through and can measure it by the 
reverence of which your relationship to the old lady who is now 
dead gave me a feeling so in the highest sense noble and ideal. 

To me certain evening hours of that summer three years ago, 
when the Princess favored me with many a lively tale and ex- 
pressly elaborated reminiscence, stand in my memory as some- 
thing lasting, and it made the strongest impression on me to find 

the legends of a long life so purely and definitely preserved in an 
austere mind. 

Now her quiet going falls in a time that drowns out everything; 
perhaps a sort of consolation may involuntarily proceed from the 
fact that in these days of monstrously accelerated dying the sor- 
rowful natural event comes about in a way that is by nature 

How much my thoughts have been at Lautschin in these months 
and are now particularly so; to write the Princess was one of my 
strongest impulses but one hears onself living so little, as though 
one stood day and night beside the most booming waterfall; 
those out there are in the great sweep of rushing events a person 
like me, who is only standing beside it, waits, keeps silent, hoping 
that in the end a word, a feeling, an insight, may ripen in his soul 
that might be useful at the moment when the exhausted war col- 
lapses into itself, leaving the immense spaces it takes up to empti- 
ness, stillness, a future that is to be begun anew. . . . When? . . . 


To Alfred von Heymel Pension Pfanner, 2 Finkenstrasse 

Munich, October 12, 1914 

. . . Today I read your letters . . . and read them aloud. 
How often in August, when this movement with its unforeseeable 
end arose, did I think of you as one of those for whom this had to 
come, so that he might make full use of himself and get about 
everywhere in his own heart; how very right I was in this opinion 
appears almost overwhelmingly from your hearty and happy let- 
ters, my dear friend; a frame of mind that embraces heaven and 
earth speaks out of them God grant us all sometime to be of 
such a heart. Perhaps these changing destinies are leading us also, 
each individual one of us that is left behind, to make most unheard- 
of demands upon ourselves; perhaps they are preparing us too 
for a new presence of mind and presence of heart this much 
everyone feels, that life is cut to allow for growth and that one 
may vigorously put on weight before one fills it out entirely. 

I2 4 

To Frau Helene von Nostitz Pension Pfanner, 2 Finkenstrasse 

Munich, October 21, 1914 

When was it (I often ask myself) that I had Johannes Kalck- 
reuth show me your house I still see its quiet street and the way 
it showed its face so simply out of the garden when was it? 
A few days later fate broke out of the impenetrable world, this 
world-noise which overnight drowned out one's thinking back, 
and on beyond which no one is yet able to think. Not even now 
when so much dreadful accomplishment and progress has been 
going on on all sides. Who might say what is really happening 
to us now and what sort of people those who survive this year will 
later turn out to be. To me it is an unspeakable suffering and for 
weeks I have been understanding and envying those who died 
before it, that they have no longer had to experience it from 
here; for somewhere in space there will surely be places from 
which this monstrosity still appears natural, as one of the rhythmic 
convulsions of the universe which is assured in its existence, even 
where we go under. And indeed we are going under, into the 
midst of it, into the most existent here one must look upon the 
fullness of destruction and suddenly know something of death. 
Perhaps this is what is meant by the terrible war, perhaps this 
experiment is going on before some unsuspected observer, if it is 
conceivable that there are unconfused eyes, the seeing, experi- 
enced eyes of the investigator who is examining this like a hardest 
sort of stone, and confirming the existence of a further degree of 
hardness of life under this up-boiling death. 

To Karl and Elisabeth von der Heydt Pension Pfanner 

2 Finkenstrasse 
Munich, November 6, 1914 

. . . You ask after me with affectionate concern. So I will just 
quickly relate that, without presentiment, I left Paris on the zoth 

of July; for two months, as I thought, leaving all my possessions 
behind me in customary fashion. These I have long since and 
freely abandoned to fate, as it is absolutely not for me to take 
possession literally. Two or three things, it is true the daguer- 
reotype of my father, an old picture of Christ that I have had 
standing before me since boyhood, and certain letters and par- 
ticular irreplaceable books among all my several hundred still 
follow me from afar and wave farewell, and I wave to them . . . 
But that will pass and, as one simply has to learn, the individual 
absolutely does not matter, even if I do not see the common bonds 
either that might matter; it probably does not matter at all any- 
way, but instead fate is right and behind fate the all-surviving 
stars. Everything visible has simply been cast once again into the 
boiling abysses, to be melted down. The past remains behind, the 
future hesitates, the present is without foundation; but hearts, 
ought they not to possess the power of soaring and maintain them- 
selves among the great clouds? In the first days of August the 
phenomenon of the war, of the war-god, gripped me (in the 
Insel War-Almanac you will find a few poems that came out 
of this experience) ; now the war has long since become invisible 
to me, a spirit of tribulation, no longer a god but the unleashing 
of a god over the peoples. Nor is more to be achieved now, than 
the soul's endurance, and misery and evil are perhaps no more 
present than before, only more graspable, more active, more ap- 
parent. For the misery in which mankind has daily lived since the 
beginning is really not to be increased through any circumstances. 
But increases of insight there surely are into the unspeakable 
misery of being man and perhaps all this is leading to them; so 
much decline, as though new ascents sought distance and space 
for their running off. 

... I hope we shall see each other soon in days when we can 
breathe again; perhaps we are all learners, and if we hold through 
there will afterward be heart-holidays as never before. 


To Clara Rilke Hotel Englischer Hof , Frankfort a.M., 

November 18, 1914 

And last evening I heard a singularly moving story from an 
officer of Hussars, who was among the first to be wounded be- 
fore Longwy it does matter after all to hear real voices and 
the Comet is touchingly interwoven with it all the Hussar of- 
ficer, not knowing who I was, asked me whether I knew this bal- 
lad ... ?! And then what recognition, that it should have been 
I myself who wrote it. 

To Anton Kippenberg 6 Bendlerstrasse, Berlin W 10 

January 4, 1915 

. . . The new year was no perceptible division at all for me 
either; since after all the year of war in which we are living con- 
tinues and cancels all other calendars, far into the season. I spent 
the night in solitude with many an inner settling of accounts and 
finally, by the light of my Christmas-tree, which I had lit once 
more, read the Psalms, one of the few books in which one can 
bring every bit of oneself under shelter, however distraught and 
disordered and bothered one may be. ... 

To Fran Hanim Wolff Munich, January 29, 1 9 1 5 

... I would have been so glad to see you . . . but: I must 

consistently and strictly sequester myself, after a month and a 

half of Berlin have brought me much strain and confusion; physi- 

cally exhausted and imprecise in mind I came back here to be 

silent, to keep myself absolutely hidden, nothing else. My seques- 

tration is still too new to bear an exception so soon, so it is safer 

for me to decline and go to bed, following my rule, at 8: 30. 

The uncertainty out there, this flickering world in which one 


can place no object, no word even, without its casting most un- 
quiet shadows, quite unconditionally obliges me to draw myself 
in; perhaps thus one may arrive at some further inward place, 
where one has never oneself been, and from there out be stable. 
. . . Who would have thought, when in the beginning of August 
we strolled from the Englischer Garten through the excited city, 
that for so many months the anomaly then beginning would still 
be unresolved over us and in the right. In the right for how long 
and so much that is wrong! . . . 

I 13 3 

To Anna Baroness von Miinchhausen 2 IV Finkenstrasse, Munich 

February 4, 1915 

. . . More and more, the longer this anomaly in our life con- 
tinues, I am losing the inner connection with my nature, and this 
condition leads to a silentness inwardly and outwardly, to an 
insensibility, of which I daily complain and which I still cannot 
overcome. So I am silent toward you too. But when news of you 
comes, like the card recently and now your good letter, I feel 
it in all my apathy as one of the signs by which one survives . . . 

Of the music to the Cornet, which is by a young Herr von 
Paszthory, my friend Frau von Hattingberg (who is also per- 
forming it with Kurt Stieler, in Leipzig) once gave me an idea 
here; it contains lovely and purely animated moments, although 
to me it takes some things too sentimentally; but what I would 
have against it, if it came to that, is not against the music, but 
against the juxtaposition of music and word that is intrinsic to 
the melodramatic form (which to me is not an art form). Per- 
haps a strong speaker can establish the momentary accord: that 
will now be seen. I regard this combination as a loose and pro- 
visional one and consented to the Leipzig trial only for the reason 
that Frau Hattingberg had the liveliest faith in Paszthory's music 
and because an influence on many people was to be expected from 
it: (on the many, here concerned, where the individual succumbs 
or is active or silent in the commonest direction) . It would give 


me pleasure, in case you really want to go to Leipzig, to learn 
what your impression was . . . 

To Ludivig von Picker Pension Landhaus Schonblick 

Irschenhausen bei Ebenhausen (Isartal) 
February 8, 1915 

I would have written you long ago, did not the weight 
of the time lie upon the slightest communication and expression, 
so that I cannot write a word without disproportionate effort: 
from this I would not shy off if I did not have to fear that such 
striving against intangible and unsurveyable obstacles cancels and 
outweighs, as it were, the very content of what is written; since 
after all there is present no inner single-minded impulse which 
would force the laboriously achieved exercise into a clean expres- 
sion, the mere ability to write being phenomenon enough. 

So I kept silence. But I am grateful to you for yourself break- 
ing silence in order to remind me of my promised contribution to 
the "Brenner". I could send you something at once from among 
my papers, a few verses; meantime as I still have ten days' grace, 
or at least a week's, I will let it depend on whether some poem 
or other may not come into being, a new one, for now, even 
though it be no more than the noise with which a piece of silence 
breaks off from the great dumb mass inside me ... 

To Thankmar 

Baron von Munchhausen 2/IV Finkenstrasse, Munich 

March 6, 1915 

. . . The Cornet was being performed in Leipzig with music 
... I could not positively advise [your mother] to go, for this 
reciting to music is a running-along of one art beside the other 
as though it depended on which won: and only one does actually 
win. ... So, my dear boy, I quite unexpectedly find myself 







among the authors of this exceptional year, my voice of fifteen 
years ago speaks into the attentive ear of the people who have 
been frightened for months mine? The voice of that one 
distant night of my youth in which I wrote the Cornet, stimu- 
lated to it by clouds passing in strange flight high across the 
moon. . . . 

But from the fact that Christopher Rilke is thus being turned 
to account today you may notice again and again how dumb we 
have grown here. I am sure everyone is so at heart; even if a few 
must hear themselves and pluck their strings with this thought and 
that, there is no one who can draw sounds from the air that sweeps 
through him, not even to lament, it is a silence of halted, inter- 
rupted hearts. I am certain no one loves in these days; however 
much one or another heart may achieve, it acts out of some sort 
of universal stores of human kindness, warmth, willingness and 
devotion, it does not give what is its own, but behind every act 
primeval store-rooms of human need are opened up; even you 
out there act and struggle out of such strengths as were hoarded 
up in some sort of barns of involuntary fellowship. It seems to me 
as though the heart in each of us were only passing things on, con- 
fined to gazing in astonishment at the store that is going through 
its hands. 

What we are doing here, so far as reading still counts as doing 
(for who could achieve a contemplative mood? ) , is to read Hol- 
derlin (over and over) , I for my part Strindberg, Montaigne, Flau- 
bert, the Bible. . . . There are some new Werfel poems, one 
tries them and yet is elsewhere and cannot get back into the tone 
of day before yesterday. . . . 

To Princess Marie von Thurn 

und Taxis-Hohenlohe 2 IV Finkenstrasse, Munich 

March 18, 1915 

. . . For the time being, of course, I have to stay in Munich 
. . . God help me. Shall probably have to await enlistment here 

too, in case it is true (as I read recently in the Corriere della Sera) 
that Austria is calling men up to 42. There would be little sense 
in making plans before one knows how the die will fall. 

I would have much to tell you. A few lectures to which a man 
otherwise quite a recluse has been persuaded, singularly excited 
and absorbed the little circle that assembled for them. I could 
not help thinking a great deal of you, wished you there , just 
imagine a person, starting from an intuitive insight into old im- 
perial Rome, undertaking to give an explanation of the world 
which presented the dead as those who really exist, the kingdom 
of the dead as a unique, fabulous existence, but our little span of 
life as a kind of anomaly: all this supported by a boundless eru- 
dition and of such a cataract of inner conviction and exaltation 
that the meaning of immemorial myths seemed to come rushing, 
released, into this channel of speech, bearing on a great current 
the sense and the stubbornness of this strange eccentric . I heard 
only the last of the three lectures and thus received in a sense only 
the conclusion of his ideas, but was nevertheless induced, full of 
surmise, toward a whole that seemed set up with remarkable com- 
pleteness in this mind averted from us. But I see I cannot give you 
a proper picture; I spent a few hours with this person, don't know 
whether it is possible to see him again, in any case, since I cannot 
ask further and go into it more closely, I feel myself attracted to 
and separated from his lines of thought much as I do with the 
"Unknown" ____ 

To Princess Marie von Thurn 

und Taxis-Hohenlohe 2 /IV Finkenstrasse, Munich 

June 10, 1915 

I have not seen a newspaper for a week or ten days yesterday 
one was brought me in which were the names Monfalcone, Sa- 
grado, Duino; I do not know how far the demolition reported 
there will prove true. But everything that is called destruction 
is possible now of course so to speak taken for granted from 

the start, probably. It is with these names that for the first time 
since the war a single event has struck me so directly to the heart. 
Dear, dear friend, if only I had written all the Elegies at Duino, 
if only they were unutterably more beautiful than they are . 
(All this that is irretrievable! ) What weight, what obligation now 
falls on things that survive a little more. . . . 

To Thankmar 

Baron von Miinchhausen temporarily (most provisionally) 

32/111 Widenmayerstrasse 
June 28, 1915 

. . . For such a good thing as meeting again must [in these 
times] have a sweetness one would never otherwise ascribe to it; 
the appalling calamity creates a new scale of sensation; since it 
reaches so deep down, does it also rise higher, is it more too, what 
we feel? Or do we simply read life's degrees in Fahrenheit in- 
stead of the usual Reaumur? 

People like us, my dear friend, who have remained so entirely 
non-combatant have much time for doubting: probably, to our- 
selves, all people like us say misery is always there and all distress 
even to the most extreme. The whole of distress is always in use 
among men, all there is of it, a constant, as there is also a constant 
of happiness; only the distribution varies. Anyone who may not 
have known there was so much distress would now have his turn 
to be shocked. But who, truly alive, has not known that? Won- 
derfully manifest indeed is the endurance, the acceptance, the 
carrying through of so much distress on every side, on everyone's 
part. Greatness comes to light, steadfastness, strength, a standing- 
up-to-lif e quand-meme , but in such behavior how much is bit- 
ter constraint, is desperation, is (already already) habit? And that 
such greatness appears and holds good, can that in any way at all 
diminish the pain over the fact that such confusion, such not- 
knowing- which- way-to-turn, the whole sad man-made complica- 
tion of this provoked fate, that exactly this incurably bad 

condition of things was necessary to force out evidences of whole- 
hearted courage, devotion and bigness? While we, the arts, the 
theater, called nothing forth in these very same people, caused 
nothing to rise and flower, were unable to transform anyone. 
What is our metier but purely and largely and freely to set forth 
opportunities for change, did we do this so badly, so half-way, so 
little convinced and convincing? That has been the question, that 
has been the suffering for almost a year, and the problem is to do 
it more forcefully, more unrelentingly. How? ! 

Dear Thankmar, that's how things look with me, inwardly. 
Outwardly I am preparing to go to the country, if I can find a 
little cottage (for me alone) such as I am looking for; meanwhile 
sitting here in the apartment of friends (who have gone to the 
country) with the finest Picasso (the "Saltimbanques"), in which 
there is so much Paris that, for moments, I forget, 

To Princess Marie von Thurn 

und Taxis-Hohenhhe (% Koenig) 32/111 Widenmayerstrasse 

Munich, July 9, 1915 

. . . Thank God, I said, thought, felt at the news about Duino 
and still dared not answer Thank God aloud to you, for so long 
as havoc is in the world, who may breathe freely, who may con- 
sider anything safe, spared, rescued? In personal matters as well 
as in general it is a giving up, an offering of all possession, at what 
cost? At what cost; if only there were not that question, who 
would not cast off everything that was his and himself into the 
bargain, if he but understood, if he but guessed, that, sheerly sur- 
viving, a thing needs such underpinnings in order to rise up 
further? We, some of us, have long been feeling continuities 
that have nothing in common with the course of history; even 
over the present vicissitude the furthest past and the furthest fu- 
ture will come to an understanding, but we, constrained between 
yesterday and tomorrow, shall we ever again simply, quietly, 
serenely take part in the swing of great affairs? Or remain fright- 

_ V33 

ened below with the stamp of a period on our shoulders, co- 
knowers of unforgettable details, co-responsible for the big as for 
the merely fearful, used up by this endurance and performance 
and persistence ; and shall we not then later, forever, as we are 
learning to do now, defer all understanding, hold what is human 
to be inextricable, history to be a primeval forest to the soil of 
which we never reach because it lies, layer on layer, unendingly, 
upon tumbled stuff , an apparition on the back of destruction ? 
Are you reading, and what? I have been busy with Hermann 
Keyserling, also with Strindberg, the Strindberg of the truly in- 
credible "Ghost Sonata" (very movingly performed here), the 
most important thing in the theater besides Georg Biichner's 
Wozzekj which the Hoftheater . . . generously came out with. 
A monstrous affair, written more than eighty years ago . . . 
nothing but the fate of a common soldier (around 1848) who 
stabs his faithless sweetheart, but powerfully setting forth how, 
around the most trivial existence, for which even the uniform of 
a common infantryman seems too wide and too much emphasized, 
how even around the recruit Wozzek all the greatness of existence 
stands, how he cannot prevent, now here, now there, before, be- 
hind, beside his dull soul, horizons from being torn open onto 
violence, immensity, the infinite; an incomparable play, the way 
this misused person in his stable-jacket stands in universal space, 
malgre lui, in the infinite relationship of the stars. That is theater, 
that is what theater could be like . . . 

To Helene von Nostitz (% Koenig) 32 Widenmayerstrasse 

Munich, July 12, 1915 

Yesterday, Sunday, came your letter. I should have answered it 
that same evening, but before I can persuade my pen writing 
now means somehow prevailing over oneself, for what to write 
when everything one touches is unspeakable, unrecognizable, 
when nothing belongs to one, no feeling, no hope; when an 
enormous provision, gotten I know not where, of suffering, 

despair, sacrifice and misery is used up in large amounts, as though 
everybody were somewhere in the whole mass, and the single 
person nowhere; nowhere any longer is the measure of the in- 
dividual heart applicable which used to be the unit of the earth 
and the heavens and all expanses and abysses. What used the cry 
of a drowning man to mean even if it was the village idiot, who 
with a suddenly sharper cry reached out of the water, everybody 
flew to the scene and was on his side and against his sinking, and 
the swiftest risked his life for him. How immemorial everything 
has become, Heiligendamm, times, like childhood itself, so remote 
and innocent who will ever feel them again!? You say that "one 
now feels Beethoven and the stars more deeply and more over- 
poweringly"; that is perhaps because (as you write) a personal 
sorrow has come to you out of the continuously common lot 
perhaps that helps. It is not so with me; for me all that, all that is 
biggest and most stirring, remains attached to the other world, 
the earlier, the former world, in which I had long been a suff erer, 
but never a numb person, never an emptied-out person, never a 
person shouted at who does not understand. The longer it lasts, 
the disturbing thing is not the fact of this war, but that it is being 
used and exploited in a business-ridden, a nothing but human 
world, that the god himself, once someone has flung it into that 
world, cannot call it back, because people cling to it greedily, 
with all the weight of their heavy conscience. Man-work, as 
everything has been man-work in the last decades, bad work, 
work for profit, save for a few painful voices and pictures, save 
for a few warning figures, a few zealous individuals who clung 
to their own hearts, which stood against the stream. Rodin, how 
often, as always, repeated words of disapprobation, mistrust for 
the course of things; it was even too much for me that he always 
did it with the same expressions. I took it for weariness and yet it 
was judgment. And Cezanne, the old man, when one told him 
of what was going on, and he could break out in the quiet streets 
of Aix and shriek at his companion: "Le monde, c'est terrible 
. . ." As of a prophet one thinks of him, and longs for one who 
will cry and howl like that but they all went away beforehand, 

those old men who would have had the power to weep now before 
the peoples. , . . 

To Eha Bruckmann % Koenig, 32/111 Widenmayerstrasse 

Munich, July 19, 1915 

Since our understanding on the telephone, I have been dis- 
covering more and more thoroughly that I aroused your kind 
enthusiasm with the most irresponsible precipitancy : we must 
give up the reading we had planned or at least postpone it over the 
summer; I am really in no condition now to undertake it. I wrote 
you, as the impulse came up, at a time when I chanced to be reading 
the "Book of Hours", but this very impulse, as spontaneous as it 
was unforeseen, is not easily transposed and gathered together for 
a particular evening, at least not as I see things at present. What 
I was appealing to with that recent reading was the multitude in me 
and it is before this and no other whatsoever that I shall have to 
conduct and to acquit myself. Of this I have only gradually be- 
come aware in the last few days, and by way of the realization 
that I could read scarcely a third of the "Book of Hours" before 
an invited public without letting myself in for a few preliminary 
explanations about the inner occasion for this reading. Consider- 
ing hoiv this introduction would have to be shaped up, I set in 
motion such a mass of carefully saved, hitherto unlooked-at ideas 
and feelings, that I saw at once the ordering of a few words would 
make necessary a prodigious reordering and rearranging in myself, 
a process so laborious and multifarious that I could only dare to 
undertake it independently of any date or purpose. But even as- 
suming it were carried out, under pressure, within this week and 
that I could cast some of its results into my address, then this in 
turn would become something else than a mere explanation of 
the "Book of Hours"; it would, even if it did not presume to touch 
upon present conditions, nevertheless bring up such implicit con- 
tradictions to them, one after another, that it would have small 
chance of not being offensive to the censor; to speak out in terms 

136 _ 

trimmed to suit the censor would be painful to me, while on the 
other hand it would, of course, hardly become me to let things 
come to the point of inveighing against such a situation. Because 
even proceeding from my innermost and to me most immediate 
convictions, still I know I am entirely unauthorized to give out 
such impulses otherwise than enclosed in the hardest production, 
where, God willing, they are then removed from every censorship 
in the world and are of such ungraspable influence that no hand 
can halt their working. Until then until I have got so far I am 
(it is clear to me again) assigned to that resolute silence which for 
many months has been my business, my most special business. It 
was more than a velleity which allowed me to disturb you, it was a 
strong wish to take part with others and in their fate at least 
momentarily, but on looking at it more closely I have to take 
wishes of this sort as not exactly mine. Forgive me, then I shall 
not come to the war-relief tomorrow . . . 

To Regina Ullmann Wednesday [1915?] 

The proofs of the "Field Sermon" I sent on just this morning, 
so difficult was it for me to part with them. I had sanctioned all 
your improvements and carried them out in ink, suppressing only 
a few exclamation marks. You are too generous with them, there 
just aren't that many. It is requisite to the firmness of a style that it 
be sober in this respect, even in its drunkenness. Heaven forbid, 
no no, that there would have been anything to change in the 
"Field Sermon". Never has it seemed so beautiful to me! It still is, 
I can't help it, your most beautiful, your divine work, that in 
which you were simply obedient, most deeply serving, docile 
toward God, and silently led through by the angel. What purity 
in the dialogues, what purity behind them! A contour as of moun- 
tains toward the east in the evening, as of hills that are meditating, 
Yesterday two different things went through my head: whether 
you do not urgently need the country again, whether you oughtn't 
to live in the country altogether in order to produce that sort of 

thing?, that is so very much yours! (This is already the third 
exclamation mark on this page, but, please, I am really exclaiming.) 
One must see cows by day, in order to arrive at repose and 
recumbency like that in word-layers, cows, and people who do 
not, if one touches them, fall apart into a heap of words (like us 
in the city), but who are as it were the cake-mold of a single, 
always identical word that is baked in them on Sunday. (And 
otherwise are silent.) This, and then I wondered how it hap- 
pens that you never before hit upon the scenic form so very suited 
to you? I think it is so entirely suited to you because it may reject 
all that is confusing or shift it in among the accessories and may 
purely set forth in the words, the spoken words, the entire content 
of the character. Not action has driven this material into the 
dialogic sections, but the wish rather to pour out figures than to 
describe them, to place their inner content before the light, as 
happens when one decants dark bottles into open glasses. There 
stands each drink, and the strength, spirit and clarity of each be- 
comes apparent. 

Shouldn't this form still be for you one of the most immediate, 
most tractable? Goodbye and: good fluting! . . . 

To Princess Marie von Thurn 

und Taxis-Hohenlohe % Koenig, 32/111 Widenmayerstrasse 

Munich, August 2, 1915 

How should I not constantly with all my heart be with you, 
when participation in what you suffer and hope is so thoroughly 
natural to me. I do not understand the present hell, but how you 
bear it and go through with it I do understand. There are few 
constants in human affairs, and how many have changed, have be- 
come incomprehensible have taken on the color of a time that 
could not itself say whether it has a color, a time that I believe 
is going on at some still undiscovered point of the spectrum, in an 
ultra-red that goes beyond our senses. . . . 

Munich is getting empty, I imagine it has just about its usual 

summer appearance. I have outwardly the most even days, but 
inwardly it's an abyss, one is living on the edge, and below there 
lie, perhaps in pieces, who knows, the things of one's former 
life. Was it that? I say to myself a hundred times, was it that, which 
in these last years has been lying upon us as a monstrous pressure, 
this frightful future that now constitutes our cruel present? I 
have to think of how I one day said to Marthe: Marthe, il n'y aura 
devant moi que des desastres, des terreurs, d'angoisses indicibles; 
c'est avec vous que finissent les bontes de ma vie , it came out of 
me just like that, as though in the midst of a calm the impact of a 
storm had torn it out of me. I pricked up my ears as I heard myself 
say it, I was thinking only of my own curiously collapsing destiny 
and did not guess that the world as a whole would be bringing 
forth destruction. And Marthe made an unforgettable gesture of 
taking-me-under-protection. Now for the first time do I realize, 
it was just like that that those two powerful old men went around, 
Tolstoy and Cezanne, and uttered warnings and threats, like 
prophets of an ancient covenant that is soon to be broken and 
they did not want to live to see that break. Whatever comes, the 
worst of it is that a certain innocence of life in which after all we 
grew up, will never exist for any of us again. The years ahead of 
us, many as they are what will they be but a descent, with trem- 
bling knees, from this mountain of pain, up which we are still 
being dragged ever farther. . . . 

You are reading Balzac, I have always stuck to Flaubert, read 
a wonderfully fresh early version of the Education Sentimcntale 
which has scarcely anything in common with the later novel: for 
the latter is highly deliberative, spontaneous sentiment occurs in 
it only as in rich savory translation. And then Strindberg. They 
are giving the Dance of Death here, after the incredible Ghost 
Sonata, and these dramas have almost reconciled me to the theater, 
which for years has given me nothing. At first it seems so hope- 
lessly obstinate to present humanity's disconsolation as its abso- 
lute condition, but when someone like this has power over even 
the most disconsolate, there hovers above the whole, unspoken, a 
concept of illimitable human greatness. And a desperate love. . . . 

To Princess Marie von Thurn 

und Taxis-Hohenlohe 32 /III Widenmayerstrasse, Munich 

Monday [August? 1915] 

. . . Your letters belong for me among the very very few 
things that signify a continuity between what has been and what 
is to be. I hold onto them, so to speak, in crossing over if I only 
knew whither. My not having written comes from this very re- 
serve and reluctance of my nature, from which I can wrest 
nothing, unless it be a misgiving or a complaint, and why should 
I want to come to you with such things! Even to come in joy 
over the so far good condition of Duino has no sense for . . . 
sense will come back into our rejoicing and hoping and suffering 
when we once more have to do with more comprehensible, more 
human matters. Ah, Princess, a few years earlier and I might have 
been able to bring up in my heart, then not yet so downfallen, 
visions that would have withstood even such a time, a Book of 
Hours state of mind that would have had the power to treat the 
simply incomprehensible like that which in its essence transcends 
all understanding; for what do I seek more than the one point, that 
of the Old Testament, at which the terrible coincides with the 
greatest, and to show it up now , that would have been like the 
lifting of a monstrance over all those who, stumbling and falling, 
again and again get up. For even though no one cares to admit 
it openly, consolations would be needed, the great inexhaustible 
consolations, the possibilities of which I have often felt at the bot- 
tom of my heart, almost frightened to be containing them, the 
boundless, in so limited a vessel. It is certain that the divinest 
consolation is contained in humanity itself we would not be able 
to do much with the consolation of a god; only that our eye would 
have to be a trace more seeing, our ear more receptive, the taste 
of a fruit would have to penetrate us more completely, we would 
have to endure more odor, and in touching and being touched 
be more aware and less forgetful : in order promptly to absorb 
out of our immediate experiences consolations that would be more 


convincing, more preponderant, more true than all the suffering 
that can ever shake us to our very depths. Not in the sense of the 
"Unknown", probably, but in a still much freer, less detached 
sense do we live, belonging within the most tremendous tides; 
I often have to turn, asking what force is perhaps now passing 
there behind me to its work, each to its work, and the way of so 
many leads through the center of our heart (qui n'est pas une 
auberge, mais un fameux carrefour quand-meme ). Dear Prin- 
cess, how have I not misused this heart of mine, that it now gives 
no witness of our consolableness! I have so often in these last 
years spoken complainingly to you of this heart, revilingly, de- 
grading it among the least , but still always too kindly, still al- 
ways too hopefully. Could I say of it that it overflows with bitter- 
ness, that it is numb with pain; but no, as though its contents 
were simply balled into formless lumps, thus do I carry it about. 
There is a way out, to call this sick, and some days too I am nothing 
but that, sick, that is a small matter, and I imagine that the good 
Stauffenberg might have been able to change that; for it was to 
that end after all that I came here. A year ago, this year! You 
can see, beloved Princess, today I am not to be borne with, I wish 
we were sitting in your boudoir in Duino or up in the retreat in 
the chapel, where I read aloud to you out of my pocket note- 
book, for to groan orally does still show consideration, but to 
groan on paper is cowardly, I know and yet . . . 

Princess, I have been puzzling in silence like all the world over 
the common future, that of all of us, although I am committed 
to fewer assumptions than any man in the street, for history is 
dark to me; also I suspect that it is not history at all that one might 
know and draw conclusions from, but an odd selection from the 
fortuitous and the systematic, in which man recognizes himself 
because the continual confusion of the two is his most familiar 
emotion. But now it is so suddenly, overtakingly autumn, here at 
least. I see from unaccustomed windows the tree-covered banks 
of the Isar turning yellow, and the yellows, under the cold rain, 
are not increasing gradually but next-to-last tones are almost 
there, then will come the falling of the leaves. These rainy nights 

and this winter at the threshold , and the widespread need sud- 
denly contracts into my very own, into helplessness before my 
own tomorrow and day-after-tomorrow, whither, whither? 
One Munich year is over, I have not done much with it. On the 
contrary, I seem to myself to have retrogressed in every respect, 
how shall I now do better? My inner world is so inhospitable that 
I simply cannot undertake to lead you about in it, yes it is prob- 
ably obstructed and impassable, restons dehors. My whole cog- 
nizance is limited to the highly negative realization that I should 
no longer stay in Munich, the people here make too many de- 
mands on one, one has to be finished or pass oneself off as such, 
et moi, si j'ai encore quelque avenir, ce sera en recomme^ant 
humblement que j'y parviendrai; for whatever in my books may 
count as (to a certain extent) finished, that too is over for me, 
since five years ago, since Make Laurids closed himself to behind 
me, I stand here as a beginner, as one, to be sure, who is not be- 
ginning. So to begin but how? ! . . , 

My situation has become in a way still more real through my 
learning, day before yesterday, that I really have lost all my Paris 
belongings, that is, practically everything I possessed: the entire 
contents of my apartment was auctioned off in April! You know 
that I do not take this hard, I had long been inclined to regard 
everything that had collected around me during those twelve 
years in Paris as M. L. Brigge's estate, and perhaps with all these 
things that know what I know and books and the few heirlooms, 
the obsession of this figure, which I was sincerely determined to 
dismiss finally from my mind, has been taken from me. And yet, 
dear friend, to you I may confess it, since that news from Paris 
I have been going around with a curious feeling, rather like one 
who has stumbled, got up again unhurt, and yet somehow cannot 
rid himself of the suspicion that a belated pain may suddenly break 
out in his insides and make him cry aloud. By and large I had long 
ago given up everything and practiced testing my renunciation by 
my consciousness of the few objects that meant the most to me , 
it worked; but now I see that they were nevertheless still there; 
since I know that everything is gone a singular fear has been 

stirring in me, as though it were conceivable that one might sud- 
denly be gripped by the recollection of one of those lost objects 
that is absolutely indispensable, a little piece of paper, perhaps, 
a picture, a letter in one of the hundred packets of letters, or what- 
ever as though something insignificant but dear could have got 
lost that was linked to the center of one's life by a light fine thread 
that is now broken. . . . Ah, Princess, how singular, how un- 
predictable all experience is; I am only writing this down because 
it surprises me and makes me feel something I would never have 
invented in this way or attributed to anybody. Now I am of course 
detached enough to assume that this singular feeling can be 
quickly overcome; perhaps it is already so inasmuch as I am taking 
account of it here. Also it would probably never have arisen if 
my belongings had been really wiped out, for with annihilation 
we are indeed most tangibly related and at one, but this having 
lost one's own things, most characteristically one's own at that, 
to people, to strangers, has something extraordinarily reproachful 
about it. I cannot imagine at all what happens to a box full of let- 
ters and papers in such a case ? 

Dear Princess, my heart has emptied itself out again, voyez 
quel debris , perhaps I shall go to a small university, perhaps to 
Berlin, perhaps to Janowitz ... it is so hard to make up one's 
mind, because of course I know it is a matter of winning an inner 
abiding place, only that an impressionable person like me con- 
tinually assumes that the right outer condition could help up the 
inner. Je suis un enfant qui ne voudrait autour que des enfances 
tou jours plus adultes 

To Frdulein A. Baumgarten 32/11! Widenmayerstrasse, Munich 

AugUSt 22, 1915 

Since great spaces of time are usual between us, it will not 
disturb you if I answer your letter of April 26 so late. My lateness 
is not to be interpreted, is it, as though I felt any the less this sign 
of your long-continuing interest; on the contrary. With it some- 


thing good has happened to me and how highly the good is now 
valued we need hardly, in the present circumstances, protest to 
each other. 

You will, if you remember the young man you once met, be 
able to imagine that the homeless and in many ways aging person 
he has become cannot manage to find his bearings in a world al- 
most entirely canceled, crumbled, tearing itself to pieces! The 
contemplation he ought to arrive at is so deep, so thorough, he 
would have to come so far through all his childhood back to him- 
self again, everything that he had been would have to be present 
in him, indeed he would have to be allowed in an unheard-of 
sense to take possession of his entire heart in order not to notice 
the losses, in order to have in himself the center that once again 
is world-center and not just any place inside of a hundred restric- 
tions. With certain prisoners known to history things went so 
that in the days of complete external privation they strove for and 
won, in the depths of their being, both themselves and the most 
inexhaustible freedom if that could be done now; but then again, 
being shut off from one's environment is not prison enough to win 
such great contemplation in; even for him who has no part in 
that environment, it is too imminently fateful, too uncertain and 
restless, too much shot through with pain and hope, too full of 
premonition, too agitated and too unhappy. And while one ad- 
mits it is all this, one is almost tempted to complain that it is not 
enough so. How much hushing-up in the cities, how much dissi- 
pation of the worst sort, what hypocrisy in living on undisfigured, 
supported by gain-greedy literature and pitiable theater and flat- 
tered by the irritating press, which surely is much at fault for this 
war and even more at fault for duplicity and lying and falsifica- 
tion making this monstrous event into a sickness, where it might 
have been allowed to be a pure frenzy. But news reported over- 
hastily, falsely, in a spirit of hate and without the least responsi- 
bility , surely the wicked lie has for the past year often been the 
cause of actual happenings, lies by the hundred have put facts by 
the thousand into the world, and now the grandeur, the sacrifice, 
the resolution, that is continually happening, is tied in to the 

*44 _ 

welter of misery and untruth, swallowed up by the "enterprise" 
of this war, which must bring gain f ame? Oh no, all these con- 
ceptions have grown meaningless in newspaper use, the world 
has fallen into the hands of men. 

What has got into me that I write you all this, perhaps into calm 
summer days! Probably my holding forth to you once in the mail 
coach was just as inconsiderate, only that then I had my extreme 
youth as an excuse, whereas now the whole outburst is dependent 
on the consideration you will perhaps grant to one who is more 
than ever alone. . . . 

To Ellen Delp 3 2/III Widenmayerstrasse, [Munich] 

Sunday [October 10, 1915] 

... I must leave these rooms tomorrow, as the owner is re- 
turning from the country, and with them the glorious big Picasso 
beside which I have been living for almost four months now. Four 
months what times are passing and how? For me with always 
more dismal insight into the in-sanity and non-sense into which 
everything is incorrigibly pressing on, using man's energy and 
man's existence, which were there for what is beyond all naming, 
as names for something abitrary and imposed and overdone. What 
a helplessness this will make afterwards, when all the accepted 
orthodox concepts are taken off the pedestals upon which they 
have been exhibited, and the bewildered survivors will want to 
attach themselves again to the abandoned laws of innermost be- 
ing. Can no one, then, check and prevent it? Why are there not a 
few, three, five, ten, who stand together and cry in the public 
squares: Enough! and who will be shot down and will at least 
have given their lives that it should be enough, while those out 
there are now succumbing only so that the frightful thing shall 
go on and on and there shall be no taking account of destruction. 
Why is there not one who cannot endure it any more, 'will not 
endure it any more; did he but cry out for one night in the midst 
of the untrue, flag-hung city, cry out and not let himself be 

_ M5 

pacified, who might therefore call him liar? How many are hold- 
ing this cry back with difficulty, or no? If I am mistaken and 
there are not many who could cry like that, then I do not under- 
stand human beings and am not one myself and have nothing in 
common with them. 

Forgive me, Ellen, but I have felt like this for nearly a year, 
I storm it out against you because you are a girl and looking 
towards high things and moreover in your inmost feelings full of 
equilibrium after your rides through the radiance of autumn into 
its new opennesses ... So you will be able to stand it all right 
if one's bitterest heart overflows. . . . 

To Ellen Delp n Keferstrasse, Munich 

October 27, 1915 

Were you, Ellen, happy Ellen, not so secure in having gone 
through and come through the almost impenetrable present, I 
would have to reproach myself for having brought up again, in 
my recent letter, the vast impending doom in all its strength and 
persistence. But it has not done you any harm, I feel, since 
"through the thick of it" (as you say) you have come on to open 
ground again, in the deep surviving world of Nature, with which 
your whole being is in harmony. 

Was this way possible for me as well? I also am pushing on, but 
I linger all too much on my way through, Nature behind things 
does not draw me enough, "tree, beast and season", all that no 
longer has the immediate magic for me which at times, like a sheer 
decree to be happy, could still prevail over my heart, however 
much entangled. "Working after Nature" has in such a high de- 
gree made that which is into a task for me, that only very rarely 
now, as by mistake, does a thing speak to me, granting and giving 
without demanding that I reproduce it equivalently and sig- 
nificantly in myself. The Spanish landscape (the last I ex- 
perienced to the utmost) Toledo drove this attitude of mine 
to its extreme: since there the external thing itself tower, hill, 


bridge already possessed the incredible, unsurpassable intensity 
of the inner equivalents through which one might have been 
able to represent it. External world and vision everywhere co- 
incided as it were in the object; in each a whole inner world was 
displayed, as though an angel who embraces space were blind and 
gazing into himself. This world, seen no longer with the eyes of 
men, but in the angel, is perhaps my real task at least all my 
earlier experiments would come together in it; but to begin that 
task, Ellen, how protected and resolved one would have to be! 

To L. H. Villa Albert!, 1 1 Kef erstrasse 

Munich, November 8, 1915 

Your letter, L. H., may be taken up from so many angles, almost 
every sentence calls for ten letters not that one need answer 
everything in it that is question (and what in it is not question?), 
no, but of course these are all the questions that have always been 
covered up again with more questions or (at best) showed more 
transparent under the influence of other self -illuminating ques- 
tions ; they are the great question-dynasties who then has ever 

What is expressed in the suffering that is written into Make 
Laurids Brigge (forgive me if I mention this book again when we 
have just discussed it) is really only this, with every means and 
always anew and by every manifestation this, This: how is it pos- 
sible to live when after all the elements of this life are utterly 
incomprehensible to us? If we are continually inadequate in love, 
uncertain in decision and impotent in the face of death, how is it 
possible to exist? In this book, achieved under the deepest obliga- 
tion, I did not manage to express all of my astonishment over the 
fact that men have had for thousands of years to deal with life 
(not to mention God) , and yet towards these first most immediate 
problems strictly speaking, these only problems (for what else 
have we to do, today still and for how long to come?) they re- 
main such helpless novices, so between fright and subterfuge, so 


miserable. Isn't that incomprehensible? My astonishment over this 
fact, whenever I yield to it, drives me first into the greatest dis- 
may and then into a sort of horror, but behind the horror again 
there is something else and again something else, something so 
intensive that I cannot tell by the feeling whether it is white-hot 
or icy. I tried once before, years ago, to write about Make, to 
someone who had been frightened by the book, that I myself 
sometimes thought of it as a hollow form, a negative mold, all the 
grooves and indentations of which are agony, disconsolations and 
most painful insights, but the casting from which, were it possible 
to make one (as with a bronze the positive figure one would get 
out of it), would perhaps be happiness, assent, most perfect and 
most certain bliss. Who knows, I ask myself, whether we do not 
always approach the gods so to speak from behind, separated 
from their sublimely radiant face through nothing but themselves, 
quite near to the expression we yearn for, only just standing be- 
hind it but what does that mean save that our countenance and 
the divine face are looking out in the same direction, are at one; 
and this being so, how are we to approach the god from the space 
that lies in front of him? 

Does it perplex you, my saying God and gods and for the sake 
of completeness haunting you with these dogmatic terms (as with 
a ghost), thinking that they must immediately mean something 
to you? But assume the metaphysical. Let us agree that since his 
earliest beginnings man has shaped gods in whom here and there 
were contained only the dead and threatening and destructive, 
and frightful, violence, anger, superpersonal stupor, tied up a& 
it were into a tight knot of malice: the alien, if you like, but,, 
already to some extent implied in this alien, the admission that 
one was aware of it, endured it, yes, acknowledged it for the sake* 
of a sure, secret relationship and connection: [for] we were these- 
too, only that so far we have not known what to do with this side 
of our experience; they were too big, too dangerous, too many- 
sided, they grew beyond us to an exaggerated significance; it was 
not possible, in addition to the many demands of existence, set up 
for use and performance, always to treat with these unmanageable 


and ungraspable states; and so one agreed to put them outside now 
and then. But since they were excess the strongest, indeed the 
too strong, the powerful, indeed the violent, the incomprehensible, 
often the monstrous how should they not, brought together 
in one place, exercise influence, effect, force, superiority? And, 
remember, from the outside now. Could one not treat the history 
of God as a part, never before broached, of the human mind, a 
part always postponed, saved up, and at last let slip, for which 
there was once a time of decision and calm, and which there 
where it had been pushed aside gradually grew into a tension 
against which the impulse of the individual, ever again scattered 
and pettily wounded of heart, hardly counts any more. 

And so you see, it was the same with death. Experienced, and 
yet in its reality not to be experienced, knowing better than we 
all the time and yet never rightly admitted by us, hurting and 
from the start outstripping the meaning of life; it too, so that it 
should not continually interrupt us in the search for this meaning, 
was dismissed, pushed out; death, which is probably so near us 
that we cannot at all determine the distance between it and the 
life-center within us without its becoming something external, 
daily held further from us, lurking somewhere in the void in order 
to attack this one and that according to its evil choice ; more and 
more death became suspected of being the contradiction, the op- 
ponent, the invisible antagonism in the air, that which shrivels up 
our joys, the dangerous glass of our happiness, out of which we 
may be spilled at any instant. 

God and death were now outside, were the other, the one being 
our life that now, at the cost of this elimination, seemed to become 
human, friendly, possible, achievable, in a firm sense ours. But 
since in this life-course for beginners, as it were, this preparatory 
class in life, the things to be classified and understood were still 
innumerable, and really strict distinctions could not be made be- 
tween problems solved and problems only temporarily passed 
over, there resulted, even in this restricted form, no straight and 
reliable progress; instead one just lived along, as it came, on real 
profits and wrong additions, and in the total result there was 

bound in the end to reappear as fundamental error that very con- 
dition upon the assumption of which this whole experiment in 
existence was set up; that is, while from every accepted meaning 
God and death seemed to have been subtracted (as something not 
here-and-now, but later, elsewhere and different), the smaller 
cycle of the merely here-and-now revolved faster and faster, the 
so-called progress happened in a world self -preoccupied and for- 
getful that, however it might exert itself, it was beaten from the 
start by death and God. Now this might still have made a kind 
of sense had we been able to keep God and death at a distance, 
as mere ideas in the realm of mind; but Nature knew nothing of 
this removal we had somehow accomplished if a tree blossoms, 
death blossoms in it as well as life, and the field is full of death, 
which from its reclining face sends out a rich expression of life, 
and the beasts go patiently from one [to the] other and every- 
where about us death is still at home and he watches us out of the 
cracks in things, and a rusty nail, sticking up somewhere out of a 
plank, does nothing day and night but rejoice over death. 

And love too, which mixes the ciphers between people to in- 
troduce a game of near and far in which we always line up only to 
a certain distance, as though the universe were full and space no- 
where save in us; love too takes no heed of our divisions, but 
sweeps us, trembling as we are, into an endless consciousness of the 
whole. Lovers do not live out of the detached here-and-now; as 
though no division had ever been undertaken, they enter into the 
enormous possessions of their heart, of them one may say that 
God becomes real to them and that death does not harm them: 
for being full of life, they are full of death. 

But of the experiencing of life we need not speak here; it is a 
secret, not one that locks itself away, not one that demands to be 
hidden; it is the secret that is sure of itself, that stands open like 
a temple, whose entrances glory in being entrances, singing be- 
tween gigantic pillars that they are the portals. 

But (and with this, Fraulein H., I come back to your letter 
again) how do we manage to be properly prepared for that ex- 
periencing of life which at some time or other, in human relations, 

in our work, in suffering, seizes upon us and for which we must 
not be casual because it is itself never an accident, but exact, so 
exact that we can only meet in inverse correspondence; you have 
discovered various ways of learning for yourself, and one feels 
that you have gone about it attentively and reflectively. So even 
the shocks of which you write have shaken you down more 
firmly and have not overwhelmed you I would like to support 
you all I can in your preoccupation with death, both from the 
biological approach (recommending Wilhelm Fliess and his very 
remarkable investigations: I shall send you a little book of his 
shortly) and in calling to your attention a few important people 
who have reflected more cleanly, calmly and grandly about 
death. One first of all: Tolstoy. 

There is a story of his called the Death of Ivan Ilych; the evening 
your letter came, as a matter of fact, I felt a strong urge to read 
those extraordinary pages again, I did so, and, thinking of you, 
I almost read them aloud to you. . . . Can you get hold of it? I 
wish you might get hold of a lot of Tolstoy, the two volumes 
"Steps of Life", the Cossacks, Polikushka, the Linen-Measurer, 
Three Deaths: his enormous experience of Nature (I hardly know 
anyone who so passionately devoted himself to studying Nature) 
made him astonishingly able to think from a sense of the whole 
and to write out of a feeling for life which was so permeated with 
the finest particles of death, that death seemed to be contained 
everywhere in it as an odd spice in the strong flavor of life , but 
for that very reason this man could be so deeply, so frantically 
frightened when he discovered that somewhere there was pure 
death, that bottle full of death or that hideous cup with the handle 
broken off and the senseless inscription "Faith, love, hope", out 
of which one was compelled to drink bitterness of undiluted 
death. This man observed in himself and in others many kinds 
of fear of death, for through his natural composure it was given 
him to be the observer even of his own fear, and his relationship 
to death will to the last have been a fear permeated with grandeur, 
a fugue of fear, as it were, a gigantic structure, a tower of fear 
with corridors and flights of stairs and railless projections and 

sheer edges on all sides only that the force with which he ex- 
perienced and admitted the very extravagance of his own fear 
may who knows at the last moment have changed over into 
unapproachable reality, was suddenly this tower's sure founda- 
tion, landscape and sky and the wind and a flight of b^rds around 
it . . . 

To Princess Marie von Thurn 

und Taxis-Hohenlohe n Keferstrasse, Munich 

November 26, 1915 

No, there has been no letter before your good long one of the 
ioth; it did atone for a certain amount of silence, it was long, 
though in view of the need of you it might have been much 
longer. How much memory it stirred in me, how many ques- 
tions; I often feel now as though everything one had formerly 
experienced should be lived out in one even more fully, as though, 
in impatience for the next and again the next or in covetousncss 
toward oneself, one had never made full use of it and, while one 
helped oneself, still left most of it in the dish. When you say 
Saonara, what a flood of memories: things upon which no 
emphasis formerly fell now all at once come to themselves in 
me, for example, a morning hour early on the second day, in the 
little salon next the billiard-room, no one had yet come down, I 
was reading a hymn of a poeta ignoto (I have just opened to it at 
the first turn in my little pocket note-book still the same one as 
in those days, so little gets entered now ), was reading and full 
of composure and serene in mind; the park outside everything 
was in unison with me, one of those hours, not made at all but 
as it were saved up, as though things drew close together and 
made room, a space untouched as the inside of a rose, an angelic 
space in which one keeps still; I forgot this moment at the time, 
it was in no way determining for the whole day, but here it stands 
in me now in a strength and survival of its own, as though it had 
been of a higher grade of being. I know of two or three such mo- 

ments in recent years (once, beautiful beyond anything, in Cor- 
doba, I told you about it), it seems to me that they suffice to fill 
my inner world with a clear an even radiance, they are just like 
lamps in it, quiet lamps , and the more I ponder them in memory 
and in attentively feeling them through again, the more these 
experiences, contentless in a present sense, seem to me to belong 
in a higher experience-unity. But what a beginner I am in them: 
for what definitive changes in one's life should issue from a single 
such experience, 

Oh yes, I remember the drive to Saonara too (Marthe's letter 
is among the things now lost), all our lovely drives in those days 
what an innocence of living, as though all that had been a great 
childhood, compared to the evil present. 

Since I have been here in this quieter, more remote house, I 
have remembered many things, have inwardly lived back through 
and beyond much, and then work was very near, indeed it was 
actually here, two or three things I might read you. But now: 
news!: I am between two examinations, imagine it, and the first 
has resulted in my being ordered to Turnau on January 4th. Now 
of course my physical capacity, especially with the approach of 
winter, is so minimal and precarious that possibly the next ex- 
amination will correct this first result again. Nothing remains but 
to wait. That I wish God might leave me to my work as long as 
possible, especially now that I have just had the taste of it on my 
lips again, no one will hold against me who knows how I stand 
toward that work and who realizes that in it I am a power and a 
glory and outside of it not even a little force. So God help us to our 
proper use. . . . 

To Anton Kippenberg 11 Keferstrasse, Munich 

February 15, 1916 

. . . To add a brief account of personal matters: [In Vienna] 
from December 1 3th on, I finally achieved, shortly before enlist- 
ment, not having to go to Turnau (even that was very hard to 

achieve!). Called up on the 4th [of January], I joined in almost 
three weeks' duty and training in barracks; my physical inability 
to go on fortunately coincided with a new summons to the War 
Archives; thither I was ordered the end of January. My situation 
there (office hours from nine to three) is now outwardly better 
and more comfortable, but probably untenable if I do not succeed 
in being transferred to purely mechanical copy or registration 
work; for the fiction-service at which these gentlemen have been 
practicing for a year and a half is utterly impossible for me. I can- 
not describe it, it is very paltry and ambiguous in nature and the 
stoppage of all intellectual functions (as was the case in barracks) 
seems enviable alongside this crooked and irresponsible misuse of 
writing activity. The gentlemen themselves call it "hairdressing 
the hero"; for a long time they shuddered at the thought, but now 
they have overcome their objections and turn it out with a flick 
of the wrist. There will certainly be lots of difficulties, for the 
moment, they do not know what to do with me and are keeping 
me in that incalculable idleness which belongs to the most intense 
military experiences. The being spent and weary, as it came over 
me in the period in barracks, has understandably enough not been 
removed by the new position; at three I get out of the office, eat, 
go home by trolley-car (i.e., Parkhotel, Hopfner, Hietzing, Vi- 
enna XIII) and yet am not in a condition to give the little re- 
mainder of the day its own stamp and its own meaning. For that 
I am too full of rolling stones from the mountains of strangeness 
that have fallen over me. I taste, if I try myself for a moment, 
nothing but patience, patience in which nothing is dissolved, pure, 
colorless patience. . . . 

You ask about my work. Almost no, certainly the most pro- 
voking thing is that a fortnight before the muster here, in which 
my lot was drawn, I was in a rapid ascent of work, a fore-storm 
of work, some curious single poems, the Elegies, everything 
mounted and flowed, and the stores of Michelangelo increased 
from day to day in a manner indescribably surpassing myself. 
Never before have I written down such strong and accurate and 
clean translations. I already thought the freest prospects were 

ahead, when the gray army cloth fell before my clarified 
vision. . . . 

1 91 3 

To Hugo von Hofmannsthal Hopfner's Park Hotel, Hietzing 

Vienna XIII, March 28, 1916 

You cannot know (or do you feel it? ) how I reproached my- 
self that same afternoon for having been so talkative about a 
lot of my own affairs, old ones in part, wholly worth forgetting , 
this having let myself go really calls for a special apology. But I 
have so often in the last months wished for a talk with you and 
imagined, in feeling, that no one could understand my position 
better than you yourself so that my tongue at last just ran away 
with me and I couldn't stop it. 

Not to continue this outpouring, on the contrary to relieve you 
of the last afterthought concerning it, I will just tell you what 
happened yesterday. The most important seems to me that Lieut.- 
Colonel V. sent for me, asked about my situation and finally in- 
structed me to have the Munich Headquarters release sent to the 
War Archives. It would have been called in already had they 
known exactly where to ask for it. Once the document was there, 
he would see what could be done with it, and he hopes in this 
way to get me entirely free. So from this side everything possible 
will surely be done. This interest of my superiors is extraordinary 
and it goes without saying that I no longer complain of remaining 
idle here either, since it is only an expression of this same tendency 
to eliminate me from the whole apparatus until I am fully dis- 

So I beg you, my dear Hofmannsthal, not to worry about me, 
also not to tell anyone of my complaint, for now that this ex- 
tremely well-intentioned effort is impending I must of course ad- 
mit that my position is bearable, no worse than any time of 
waiting. I am still not yielding to too great confidence, to be 
sure who knows how far the Munich decree is still alive but if 

_ 155 

the War Archives administration's plan doesn't succeed, one may 
be sure nobody's would have. 

Troublesome as I may have made myself the other day, to me 
the hours with you were extraordinarily delightful and at a dis- 
tance so pleasantly linked with those first ones years ago. It was 
all most enjoyable and of your Picasso I think with amaze- 
ment. . . 

To Countess Aline Dietrichstein n Keferstrasse, Munich 

All Souls Day [November i] 1916 

... It was just this that contact with Mogens and Frau Fonss 
and other works of Jacobsen's aroused in me nineteen years ago, 
this amazement you describe, this amazed delight in finding such 
things felt and given form, and an almost incredulous expectation 
of similar and of quite different products of imagination in which 
the world was shown and understood as richer and more akin than 
one had yet suspected. This is being young: this fundamental trust 
in the loveliest surprises, this delight of daily discovery. Just keep 
me well posted on the way your thoughts run so that from time to 
time I can really contribute a little, recommending or introducing 
the right thing to you at the right time. 

The question whether art is to be experienced as a great for- 
getting or as a greater insight is perhaps only apparently to be 
answered in one sense or the other; one could imagine both might 
be correct, in that a certain abandonment reaching to the point 
of f orgetfulness could constitute the first step to new insights, as 
though the shift were to a higher plane of life, where a riper, larger 
awareness, a seeing with rested, fresh eyes, then begins. To remain 
in forgetfulness would of course be entirely wrong. I believe 
that many people often give nothing but a comfortable abandon 
to those arts that strongly overwhelm (music for example) , indeed 
it is this, I fear, that most people really understand by the "enjoy- 
ment" of art, a laziness at the expense of those abundancies that 

are effective in the work of art: here begins the comical misunder- 
standing of the worthy citizen who promptly settles down where 
he sees more has been achieved than he understands. In the end it 
will be a matter of intellectual conscience how far one may suc- 
cumb to an artistic impression or, standing in it, must keep one's 
eyes open. Music could often bring me mere "forgetfulness", but 
the more receptive I have become to pictures, sculpture and books, 
often by long processes, the better prepared have I become for 
music too, the less is it able to put me entirely under water and 
delude me with a transformation in which, the music over, I should 
after all not be able to keep my bearings. . . . 

I 931 

To Imma Baroness von Ehrenfels Villa Alberti, 

ii Keferstrasse, Munich 
February 20, 1917 

Since the shocking certainty has been with us, I have daily felt 
the urge to write you, and daily denied myself; for how inadequate 
must every word of communication be to you. Today I have at 
last wrung from my own inner muteness a few lines to Frau von 
Hellingrath, and now to you I want to add at least the assurance 
that I think of you and through being so deeply stricken am placed 
as close to you as you may be willing to permit a person whom 
you have not often seen. 

I knew enough of Norbert and had so much affection and 
veneration for him, that from my relation to him I can well 
appreciate your position. It is both harder and more creative than 
that of his mother and sister. Where these two may rest under the 
burden of sorrow in long remembrance of things past and 
realized, of you, from whom things promised and to come seem 
withdrawn, a limitless poise is demanded: but for this very reason 
you alone are able to develop into a purely spiritual experience 
that for which sorrow is no sufficient name, in order creatively to 
enter into, as a very great, immeasurable inheritance, that which 
but now was future. 

It lies in the nature of every finally perfect love that sooner or 
later it may no longer reach the loved one save in the infinite. May 
your youth and the deep spiritual community with Norbert help 
you to see in your destiny not really a revocation but only this 
extreme, this greatest , this exhaustless task. 

The only thing for which I have words, Baroness Imma, is to 
beg you, for the sake of the memory I hold dear, to let me keep 
some touch with you throughout the years, 

To Anton Kippenberg Keferstrasse, Munich 

April 15, 1917 

. . . About myself I would rather not report until conditions 
are better. I have unfortunately been justified during these difficult 
months in my fear that the Vienna interruption would not be 
so easily overcome. With the fatal resemblance of its circum- 
stances to that most difficult stratum of life at the military school 
it has, as I am only now properly realizing, inflicted on me some- 
thing like what a tree would have to undergo that found itself 
upside down for a while, with its crown buried below in the bad 
and stubborn soil out of which, a tree's age ago, it had with the 
most unspeakable effort grown up to the light. To which must be 
added that this crown just at the instant of being buried stood 
full of new sap, ready to blossom and bear as it had not been for 
a long time . . . Now fortunately one knows the almost un- 
limited endurance and renewal of Nature, but one also knows that 
she works slowly and protractedly . So I am proceeding but 
very slowly along the course of the translations, and the attempts 
to continue my own very particular work, interrupted by the en- 
listment, have simply moved into daily experience a torturesome 
inability to work. Those broken surfaces have gone hard and cold 
and the warmth of simple joy is lacking to melt them, and how 
could the so much greater condition for the happiness of pro- 
ducing something new help being all the more unattainable to the 
mind dispossessed! 

How I wish for you, dear friend, an easy return to what is 
yours. Even what is mine, though it now seems that I was not kept 
from it all this long time, will be able to count on me again only 
in a healing world. But then it will be a new, determined, clean 
beginning for all of us. ... 

P.S. At Hofmannsthal's lecture last week I had a chance to shake 
Hans Carossa's hand; he was here on a short leave after a long 
time. Kassner, who sends greetings, I see nearly every week. 

To Elisabeth Taubmann n Keferstrasse, Munich 

May 18, 1917 

. . . How long I have left you without an answer. By this I 
clearly see the degree of my numbness and apathy. The present 
time with all its hindrances and its activity gone to the most 
frightful ruin is like lead poured around me , I cannot move, not 
outwardly and not far inwardly. And should there still be some 
life in my inmost being, I am too blunt and too untransparent to 
feel and recognize myself in it. ... 

After our meetings in Paris I completely absorbed only Ce- 
zanne's work; later paintings, with the exception of a few Henri 
Rousseaus, did not claim my full attention, on the one hand be- 
cause Cezanne still seemed to me the biggest and most modern, 
then also because long journeys had, as is their way, filled me with 
pictures and demands which, without the misfortune of the war, 
I would have developed and worked up within myself. Only in 
the "exile" in which I live here did I begin, more out of desoeuvre- 
ment than receptivity, to look about me again, and here I began to 
get a feeling for Picasso (as certain pictures chanced to come 
through here, and other important ones are privately owned in 
Munich). Among the Germans it was Franz Marc, who fell in 
the war, that interested me particularly; sculptors none and if 
you ask me how I feel about these artists, I am really embarrassed 
to give an answer that would be useful and to the point; for how 

much else forces itself upon our eyes that purports to be art and 
often in fact carries a certain strength and conviction. Directions 
and individuals, of yesterday and today no, I could not say how 
many of them are in the right, within the law I do not know. I 
must assume that our experiences are shifting always further into 
the invisible, into the bacillary and microscopic: and thus it is 
possible to understand the absurd violence with which painting, 
like the stage, comes to display its magnified and wrenched-out 
objects. What violence here too, how little Nature, how little 

Ah, I would counsel you, Frau Elisawetta, to work heart and 
soul from the stores of life, out of the savings of only subjects you 
yourself have experienced without trying to orient yourself too 
much with regard to other contemporaries, at most in connection 
with a few reliable experiences with the really great. Too bad you 
did not stick to painting. . . . But now you are a sculptor. And 
at the same time hold livable life in your sure hands. Do let me 
sometimes watch and listen, even should I prove unfit as an adviser, 
cut off as I now am from everything. 

1 9*1 

To Anton Kippenberg Villa Albert!, 11 Keferstrasse, Munich 

July 5, 1917 

. . . The days at the Chiemsee did me good physically, though 
they also proved to me again that no natural benefit of any kind 
can now effectively penetrate one's inner being. What could 
counterbalance there the perpetual weight of the time? You your- 
self will often have thought with concern how heavily it presses 
on my own mind and spirit and distorts all that I inwardly possess. 
If I turn up my most fruitful memories I hardly know one that 
is not as though scratched out and canceled. What is the use of 
anything that makes sense, if, contrary to all sense, a universal 
bewilderment was prepared for us? 

One thing more, dear friend. Don't be disappointed if I do not 
send you an Elegy for the Almanac. These poems must be al- 


lowed to remain my inner possession until the whole group is 
in visible form and we publish it in one. Making it known 
any earlier would, believe me, be unfair to this work, and 
what is worse, would diminish my own inner tension toward 
it ... 

To Countess Aline Dietrichstein n Keferstrasse, Munich 

July 9, 1917 

... As I was partly supervising, partly doing the packing of 
my books collected here, three volumes came into my hands 
which I am sending on to you by the same mail, because it seemed 
more proper to me that someone should read aloud to you from 
them in your days of convalescence than that they should repose 
here for no one's pleasure, piled up inside a packing-case with 
hundreds of other books. It is Adalbert Stifter's extensive novel 
"Nachsommer", one of the most unhurried, even and even- 
tempered books in the world, and hence one capable of emanating 
extraordinarily much purity and mildness of life. I think it would 
be good if you were to listen for many hours to these pages, as 
long as you must "have time", for this book has time too, it has 
the measured pace, so to speak, of eternal life, as if the world were 
without pressure and haste and menace. (If it were!) Many con- 
noisseurs and admirers of Stif ter consider this novel his most im- 
portant work; of this opinion too was Herr von Kiihlmann (the 
present German ambassador in Constantinople), who sent me 
"Nachsommer" to Paris a few years ago (as you see from the 
inscription); he discovered this old-fashioned edition for me, 
therefore I cannot give it away, but I give it into your care for 
as long as you want to keep it; for a very long time please. And 
don't send it back, I will fetch it sometime at your home in Vi- 
enna. A new edition of "Nachsommer", if I am not mistaken, has 
not followed up to now; it is congenial too to read Stif ter in these 
editions which are not beautiful but are contemporaneous with 











'- : f - - v - v 

' J 

Rilke's Grave in Raron 

Good hours! (It wants to be read aloud slowly by a quiet, 
reconciled person.) . . . 


To Elisabeth Taubmann Hotel Esplanade, Berlin 

July 19, 1917 

Your letters are tied up, together with all correspondence worth 
saving, in a trunk of letters which I packed along with our other 
trunks and boxes (who knows now for how long). . . . Just 
think, we might have seen each other again here for a brief 
moment! I don't know whether I should think of it or whether the 
mere imagining of it does not already conjure up too much that is 
irretrievable, for how could we see each other without Paris at 
least within reach? The painful longing would perhaps be stronger 
than all actuality, and I should get in addition an unbearable yearn- 
ing for myself, for my heart of those days, so sensitive, so creative, 
and for an instant so moved toward you and so tender toward you, 
Lisawetta. Tender with an infinite understanding of life, with all 
Nature and the world, as my heart in those days absorbed them 
out of everything tender, tender for the sake of the spot on 
which you stood, your inner spot, which somehow lay in shadow 
and on which you stood waiting, obstinate and gentle at the same 
time, like a child on its inexplicable favorite spot. Could it ever be 
like that again ? What have we since become? The years, alas, 
have cramped my spirit badly and made me much less susceptible 
to people and then came the war and did this and that to hamper 
me, lock me in, confute me. 

And you too have long been another your hand must have 
become more accurate and sure, your personality itself, dominat- 
ing the gait and behavior of such strong and willful animals, must 
have grown less yielding, grown more masterly and determined, 
quite confirmed indeed by tests of daring, resoluteness, presence of 
mind, which for years you were able to give yourself. 

If you were only able to be in your artistic output all this and 
the other earlier things too, for in art there really is room for all 

1 62 

contrasts in inner make-up, only in art; I now understand better 
what you have to suffer from "technique", but remember how it 
was in riding, after all, what techinque meant there; was it, in 
actual use, something so separate, so distinct in itself; was it not 
rather the right impulse clearly understood, sheer action and 
counter-action? So it must be in painting too; one should, in the 
application, hardly be conscious any more of the method as such; 
practicing is one thing, executing another; probably in riding, too, 
one who does not lack the spirit of riding has the right hand and 
the right position when often he could not possibly have acquired 
them as yet; one has to rely on that, at least where it is a question 
of "having to". . . . 

To Countess Mary Gneisenau Gut Bockel bei Bieren, 

Kreis Herford, Westphalia 
August^ 1917 

... I am startled by the contents of your letter; in recent 
years whenever I thought of you, I saw you in the center of a 
circle animated by you and in turn understanding and confirm- 
ing you, busy, full of interests and wishes the greater part of 
which remained not unregarded in short, in a state which, if 
I avoid calling it "happy", appears to me the more surely pleasant 
and agreeable. . . . And now you disavow all this through the 
admission that you have been "suffering". "For years", as you 
say, from a feeling of "dying off", of "becoming a stranger to 
yourself and empty". Here I should answer admission with ad- 
mission, for I know just that so painfully well, and am only too 
often in the position of marveling how everything used to be 
lively and remarkable to me and how I now stand here in the 
world so indifferent and hard to move (since when?) , yes: 
but neither should we forget in what a world. These states of 
rigidity may easily be transformations, inner alterations, to be 
followed by renewed existence and awareness of ourselves when 
the alteration has taken place perhaps it already has, that is 

possible ; but what is something thus completed to do when it 
finds no environment, nothing but downfalls and collapses? 
Might you not justly attribute a large part of your condition to 
the time, which is impossible and full to the brim with doom, 
mistakes, ill-will and confusion? I am myself just realizing how 
much, with all my aloofness, my feeling and what I produced 
were based on the silent assumption that they were going on in 
an evenly regulated, evenly striving world: today's air and at- 
titude of mind contradicts and confutes me in the inmost recesses 
of my mind, even far into my memories how much that is 
beautiful and big, how much that I have felt and thought, opens 
up, when I try to recall it, like a page crossed and criss-crossed 
out. It will be similar with you, dear Countess; what you call 
"emptiness" is simply everything that has become invalid, been 
retracted: for you too have assumed a human world, in which 
you loved and felt, different from this one which now sullenly 
and angrily admits to all the opposites of kindness, joy and an 
open future. 

The people around you are "hostile", you write; dear me, 
what people? The populace? And yet it is so easy now to be 
on good terms with them, since one wants less than ever to be 
counted among the "upper ones"; rather, in suffering one stands 
lower than the lowest, poorer, more restricted than they, afflicted 
with if possible still more penetrating injustice. Or are they people 
you yourself have called to you? Then away with them. What 
shall I quickly advise you to read? Bettina: read the correspond- 
ence with a child again. And of present-day books, Gustav Sack's 
"Ein verbummelter Student" (Fischer), and write me again. . . . 

C 100 ] 

To Dr. Wolf Przygode Gut Bockel bei Bieren, 

Kreis Herford, Westphalia 
September 14, 1917 

You have occasion to think me forgetful, but still you would 
do me an injustice with any such reproach. I have not neglected 


my promise; besides the slowness imposed on me by the impedi- 
ments of the time, it was only my extreme solicitude about mak- 
ing a really appropriate choice that so greatly delayed me. But 
now here are five poems which I believe I may lay before you 
with a better-satisfied conscience. If their inner connection seems 
to you very vague, I beg you to consider that they were supposed 
in a measure to show the distant boundary-marks of my more 
recent lyric output, and this would naturally produce a merely 
peripheral relationship. The order in which you will find the 
poems enclosed is the one most favorable to this view; they are 
all unpublished with exception of the last; this "Journey to Hell" 
appeared in the Insel Almanac in 1914. To me it is altogether the 
most important of the five contributions, as it is in this one that 
my lyric work up to now will be recognized at its highest (al- 
though it was written in 1913, in Spain). . . . 

C '01 I] 

To Marietta Baroness von 

Nordeck zur Rabenau Gut Bockel bei Bieren, 

Kreis Herford, Westphalia 
September 19, 1917 

. . . For the moment I am bad at answering, for the terrible, 
incomprehensible world-conditions . . . have caused me to grow 
inwardly numb so that almost only by violence can I force myself 
to say anything. But when I think how much salvation and relief 
will be implanted in my spirit the moment the great healing 
process of this wounded world can be begun, then I believe that 
not only shall I be allowed to give myself once again more 
vigorously and happily, but also I foresee a point of time at which, 
in an irrestrainable reaction of dispossessed humanity, all things 
and all people will again strive toward us and concur with us, 
more strongly, more passionately, more unconditionally, than 
was the case in those so remarkably tense years before 1914. . . . 
I sometimes think that every day the war still lasts increases the 
obligation of humanity toward a great better-intentioned com- 

_ 165 

mon future, for what could be more productive of obligation 
than the suffering augmented beyond all measure, which must 
after all join millions of people in all countries more closely to- 
gether. Ah, then it will be possible to speak again, and every word 
of love or of art will find a new acoustic, a more open air and a 
wider space , I grant you that only at the price of this prospect 
do I care to live on; without it everything that happens must re- 
main like a mountain lying over us. 

You wish me courage, over and over again I have had to 
conquer infinite hopelessnesses, but now one may hope indeed 
to be near those decisions through which the spirit will be re- 
stored to its own most particular influence. How much it will 
have to make good and to re-establish everywhere. . . . 

To Clara Rilke Hotel Esplanade, Berlin W. 

November 4, 1917 

. . . Daily I have more the impression that on account of all 
that is happening now we are not moving from the spot, and yet 
the spot is so cruel that really everybody must be agreed to leave 
it at any price. "Victories", however great and successful, lead 
not a step further, and in one's inner world one cannot make up 
one's mind to any real changes, everything is appearance and play, 
always and everywhere the old and the fateful are still betrayed 
at work, the new forces, insofar as there may be any, impatient, 
painful, nowhere manage to make use of themselves. In Kiihl- 
mann I continue to have confidence, he is certainly the only more 
far-seeing person among the "ruling", it is much that he has 
reached this place, it is always a hope; but even he will hardly 
be able to do the decisive thing. I am of the opinion that many 
changes are still ahead before the next development really comes, 
we must be prepared for much time, misery and darkness; no 
wonder, for the changes which alone lead on would have to 
reach to the roots of present conditions; only through one of the 
biggest and most profound renewals that it has ever been through, 

1 66 

will the world be able to rescue and uphold itself. A vague feeling 
of wanting to see and hear still a little more, has again kept me 
here another whole week and may perhaps keep me part of next 
too; it has been worth while inasmuch as Count [Paul] Kfeyser- 
lingk], whom it was in many respects important for me to see, 
is here at last. I hope to see something of him and promise myself 
to make the most of it, for he is almost the only one of my 
acquaintances who knew and experienced our former life (I mean 
Paris and the whole glorious open world) and is now actively en- 
gaged in the present, so that I think I can somehow measure and 
understand my own attitude by his. Unfortunately I am com- 
pelled to go out a lot evenings, which I dislike, but I take it a 
little as a duty and it will have to go on these few days more. 
Thankmar, who is here again, stands loyally by in everything like 
an adjutant; [his mother] says very sweetly of him that he "con- 
fers" me on the people he occasionally takes me to, herself for 
example, "like an order". Von der Heydt often has me to lunch. 
. . . Uexkiill was staying with him for a few days and in spite 
of his "pan-German" attitude I felt very friendly with him. 

. . . You are quite right, whoever now makes himself bigger, 
freer and more human in his own existence, is doing his part 
toward peace, as yet it must be worked at in an inward direction, 
not until a few have it all big and ready within them can it let 
itself be brought into the world. To lay a peace egg won't help 
as nobody wants to hatch it; one must be able to bring forth a 
lively young peace out of oneself unfortunately that means still 
more than nine months' gestation and under conditions of the 
most uneasy and dangerous pregnancy. 

. . . I am lunching at von der Heydt's, with the Kaiser's Wing- 
Adjutant von Moltke, who has just come from Constantinople, 
so shall lack neither nourishment nor "news" (alas, alas!). 

i6 7 

T0 Clara Rilke Hotel Esplanade, Bellevuestrasse Berlin W 

November 19, 1917 

I was about to write you a little birthday letter yesterday when 
I got the news of Rodin's death, and then all my thoughts, you 
may imagine, were switched in that direction and rearranged. 
My wishes now stand before that background, which you and I 
still immeasurably share like me you will be steeped in memories 
and sorrow and, with Paris and all we have lost in it, will have to 
go through this now so final loss. I do not know what Rodin's 
death would have meant to me in normal circumstances per- 
haps something after all reconcilable ; for the present, I am 
dominated by perplexity that something so close should come to 
pass without standing out at all sharply defined against the chaos 
of the time, that behind the unnatural and terrible wall of the war 
these clearly known figures sink away from one, somewhere 
Verhaeren, Rodin, those great wise friends their death becomes 
indistinct and indiscernible . . . , I only feel that they will not 
be there any more when the horrible vapor clears away, and will 
not be able to stand by those who will have to raise the world up 
again and nurse it. Yesterday and today I received a few deeply 
moved letters about Rodin if I could only still properly believe 
in the power of human emotion, in the midst of this predominat- 
ing inhumanity. 

But now the heartiest wishes, dear Clara. Have a good birth- 
day as a new landed proprietress; may you, together with the 
growth of a life that is awaiting its peaceful time, set yourself up 
a dear little house on your home soil. I do hope Grandmother 
has seen to providing the materials for about the right (white 
flour) sort of birthday cake. I can't send anything of the sort 
from here, only occasionally in a private house is one surprised 
by such desserts. . . . 

1 68 

To Bernhard von der Marivitz Hotel Continental, Munich 

February 12, 1918 

Forgetful toward you I have never been, bad enough that I 
have carried procrastination to extremes. The copies were to 
reach you for Christmas, early in the new year at latest that was 
my intention and was to be my pleasure quite as much as yours; 
and when I now try to find what has caused my backwardness, 
I see no important reason save that retardation which permeates 
my whole life now. 

The consciousness of the present world, as it repeatedly takes 
shape in my inner being, shatters all my relationships. It must 
since so many endure the most impossible it must probably be 
weakness that all I long for is the end of this terrible helpless man- 
made business, and beyond that, before everything is lost, a 
broadly general, well-disposed beginning. In that alone will my 
heart participate again. Until then I belong among those who are 
confuted, overcome by the utterly chaotic contradiction, and 
have nothing to hold on to save here and there the most rebellious 
words. Of what avail that they are -the most human! 

In your good letter, as though you wanted to anticipate my 
confession of loneliness, you speak of the connection of the poet 
with his whole living generation. Alas, dear friend, in this I think 
with the youngest, that we, all of us, who yielded to the current 
of sustained loftier words, have not made this very connection 
sufficiently secure. Perhaps it is indeed only to be effected in 
Tolstoy's sense, which then, to be sure, brings with it a renuncia- 
tion of the most sublime impulses to artistic performance. 

My letter, dear Herr von der Marwitz, cannot do you much 
good as you see. I hope the poems still can, as they did on that 
evening we had together, which I also warmly remember. I have 
written them in a little book, to be handy for you, and I will ask 
for it back again if something comes to me that could give you 
pleasure out there. There is little prospect of that! I haven't even 
opened up Claudel yet with real attention: my unconquerably 


reticent state of mind makes receiving and giving equally difficult 
for me. . . . 

C "53 

To Lou Andreas-Salowe 

[two ument fragments} Hotel Continental, Munich 

February 20, 1918 

Like a sleepwalker I went into Jaffe's a few days ago and 
straight to your little book, though it was lying among many 
and, modestly, with the title downwards. Since then I have read 
the "Three Letters" again and again and like that time in Paris, 
they are important and pertinent to me, as if I could still at any 
moment instate in myself all three age levels and on each of them, 
regardless of the rest of my life, be receptive. At any rate, more 
plainly than before, I desire this time to see you treat the same 
contents for my present age and for every further one; for the 
making-oneself -small, however directly it may give the subject, 
does also do it sensible injury: in that it cannot make the coming 
to know death count sufficiently beside the experience of love. 
From this point of view the remark about the plant fruit and its 
twofold (white and black) birth especially impressed me this 
time. Were you the first thus to observe this process? 

. . . That a host of creatures which spring from seeds exposed 
outside have that relationship with the maternal body, that wide, 
excitable free thing, how at home they must feel in it all their 
lives long, indeed they do nothing but leap for joy in their mother's 
womb, like little John; for indeed this same space received and 
bore them, they never get out of its security at all. 

Until in the bird everything becomes a little more apprehensive 
and more cautious. His nest is already a little maternal womb 
made secure for him by Nature, which he only covers instead 
of wholly containing it. And suddenly, as if it were no longer safe 
enough outside, the wonderful maturing flees wholly into the 
darkness of the creature and emerges only at a later turn into the 
world, taking it only as a second world and never again to become 


quite weaned from the conditions of the earlier, more fervent one. 
(Rivalry between Mother and World . . .) 

To Bernhard von der Marivitz Hotel Continental, Munich 

March 9, 1918 

At how many times in my life I would have been able to reply 
in full measure to a letter of the cordiality of yours. To let you 
take even the smallest part in my life now would mean plunging 
you into a poverty so great that I have not sufficient means to 
describe it. What might, under the violent and extraordinary con- 
ditions of your present life, make you desirous of getting letters, 
is surely only the assurance which flows from them that intel- 
lectual and spiritual continuity has not been given up in this land 
of ours. And it is just that for which I cannot produce the least 
evidence. On the contrary, where I am concerned, all general 
circumstances and the most difficult personal ones have worked 
together to interrupt all flow in me and to separate me from the 
nourishment that otherwise, even in the worst days, rose up to me 
imperceptibly from unerring roots. The more I felt this fatality, 
the more I began to look about in the disastrous events of the 
time, but this very orientation made me more and more miserable. 
For where for us here is the visible in this desperate world? 
Doesn't one think one should, laden with the years-long con- 
sciousness of whatever of evil is fulfilling itself therein, finally 
come to some place where people are on their knees and crying 
out , this I should understand, I should throw myself down 
among them and might then have my outcry too under the shelter 
of theirs. Taking part in the visitation means here in our country 
reading the newspapers stuffing oneself with the ambiguous 
sham-happening they are daily piling up, and being able at last 
to think of pain and worry only in the transposition which they 
impose upon everything. Fearful as the war is in itself, it seems to 
me still more dreadful that the pressure of it has nowhere con- 
tributed to bringing man out more distinctly, to forcing him 

the individual or the mass f ace to face with God, as great tribu- 
lations in earlier times had the power to do. On the plane mean- 
while cultivated, on which the newspapers are able to give a con- 
scienceless verbal cross-section of all that happens (a scrimmage 
in which what is beyond us and conjectured stands beside the 
factual, what is most commercial beside the most incalculable) : on 
this plane an incessant equalizing of all tensions is created and 
humanity becomes accustomed continually to accept a world of 
news in place of realities which no one has time or is minded any 
more to let grow large and heavy within them. 

I never was and cannot any longer become a newspaper 
reader. . . . 

C "7 3 

To Anton Kippenberg 34 /IV Ainmillerstrasse, Munich 

July 3, 1918 

... So far as my own activity is concerned, the disturbances 
have gone too deep for me to be able to go securely ahead. You 
write that the world-picture, the external as well as the internal, 
has altered from the ground up. What / am aware of, my dear 
friend, is still only the disastrous breaking off of a former world, 
in which I in my own way took part the more intensely as for me 
it led over into the most open future. The longer the confused in- 
terruption lasts, the more I see that my task lies in carrying on 
the past with absolute constancy of purpose and in inexhaustible 
remembering; though the conditions out of which I grew may 
have come to an end, I believe I have understood their mandate 
so timelessly that I can look upon it even now as inviolable and 

I see, if I am not mistaken, some small external progress in the 
setting up of a new household of my own. Your wife saw just the 
after-growth of possessions standing around me; since then this 
has warmed up a little with use, even though it makes me realize 
daily, of course, that it cannot mean a settling down in Munich but 
just a very transportable world of protection which I hope soon 

to transfer out of the worry and bustle of life here into more 
settled surroundings. 

To Hertha Koenig 34/IV Ainmillerstrasse, Munich 

July 25, 1918 

Am I too late to find you still at Bockel? . . . 

To figure in your thoughts and your concern cannot be other 
than continually beneficial to me. I am touched that you have 
the upper rooms in mind for me, but almost frightened that now 
they too, through the Providence of lucky discoveries, are to be 
more beautiful than originally foreseen; for I distrust myself 
lest I continually fall short of the favorable circumstances people 
create for me. All these weeks such a burden of unhappiness and 
worry has lain upon me, I had fallen into such lowlands of my 
spirit that the going was simply impossible. Happily, this was due 
in part to physical conditions, if I did not at least know that, the 
wretchedness of such an abandonment would be limitless. 

Do not let me report further about it, today is the first better 
day, as regards the weather too moreover, for after everyone had 
called for rain it came, but not a summery, nourishing one, an 
autumn rain with all the disadvantages of cold and penetrating- 

My state of mind permitted me that much better to gauge how 
young you are, Frau Hertha, and how assuring even the most 
oppressive appears from which you have to suffer. You are again 
and again placed before the most completely new beginnings in 
everything and are then each time in the position of a happy sea- 
son, which from one day to the next unfolds for itself the most 
manifold things. You have indescribably unbroached strengths 
and impulses, zest, sight, readiness and a maturity that has 
flourished in all secrecy and has come to its determining moment 
under the shelter of long shynesses that had almost become defin- 
itive. That you still sometimes behave as if those embarrassments 
were there, act with a running start, and so must make on possible 

observers a disproportionate, inaccurate effect, overshooting the 
immediate ( for your "boisterousness" is always a kind of run- 
ning start of purest seriousness and a somewhat vague leap out 
beyond the mark) : how small and how innocent is this temporary 
disadvantage in the face of such healthy and serene resolutenesses. 
Even Kassner be sure of that in case you are not mistaken about 
his impression, will have to correct it, just man that he is in his 
great depths! And it is magnificently provided that you have to 
make all these transformations not only in a spiritual sphere, that 
it all has to be tested out and inflected through possession, in the 
highly tangible form of your property and the people bound up 
with it. For in the spiritual such simple and reliable proofs would 
never have been given as have been supplied you by people and 
things , were Tolstoy still alive I would sometime have told him 
about your life, about the woman who through her possessions, 
through the deep, genuine, unshaken, even reverent taking pos- 
session of all that she stood beside in shyness and waiting pov- 
erty about the woman who arrived at freedom through her 
possessions: for that is how I think of your road and see it climb- 
ing up to free places of widest view and independence. There are 
indeed few who experience, live through their property, and 
without yours you would have remained a person without prece- 
dent. As it is, you can underlay each of your many advances with 
some thing and bring to rest and adjustment in a material world 
the tremendous fluctuation of spiritual realities. Your possessions 
are a course of instruction in contemplation for your soul: one 
cannot, it seems to me, possess in a more childlike and humble 
way than you do. 

I have long felt the impulse sometime to express these realiza- 
tions, your letter has now brought something of them to precipita- 
tion, in time I hope to write it all down better, perhaps only for 
myself for the sake of the reckoning that is such an obligation 
to me in all experience. Take this little as say an hour with 
Stauffenberg; who knows how far his pervasive influence is co- 
active in my finding these expressions. In any case, do not fear 
any overestimating in this conception; it perhaps anticipates many 

a turning, but that one of your directions seems charted out in it, 
a spontaneous joy and approbation of your nature will tell 
you. . . . 

To Joachim von Winterfeldt-Menkin 34/IV Ainmillerstrasse, 

September 16, 1918 

Again and again since your letter came, my dear Herr von 
Winterf eldt, I have taken up my pen and tried and have no com- 
mand of the words the moment calls for. Which are they? Have 
we not long since dispensed all those adapted to the various de- 
mands of grief? Anything there might still be to say we would 
have to break off with a piece of our heart , it lies beyond ex- 
aggeration, beyond any extreme ever possible to words, and the 
excess of mourning for the dead that threatens to break out pre- 
supposes, in order still to be kept within bounds at all, an infinite 
extension of soul in us which again cannot have developed in such 
a tangled and chaotic time. 

What shall I say: I know, I feel, you have lost a young friend, 
the best, the biggest, the incomparable thing that in essence these 
two words can stand for. Among the thousands of young men 
who have sacrificed their own, specially intended lives in the 
impenetrable destiny of the war, Bernard von der Marwitz will 
remain, to those who knew him, one of the most unforgotten. 
The memorial you are gathering for him in your heart will have 
more than personal significance. For the "being young" and the 
"being friend" of this young man of fine culture and large capacity 
for emotion was a more than personal manifestation, was in a 
certain sense standard for that German youth which, without 
the interruption of such fearful disturbances, would have assured 
our future in a wide-open spiritual world. The continued and in- 
extricable wrong of the war has called up more and more young 
people of contradictory mind, who think to deduce the future 
more cleanly out of the negation of the past. In Marwitz, on the 

contrary, tradition functioned together with a perfect readiness 
for intellectually responsible freedom: if a future is to come out 
of German youth, it must be an attitude very closely related to 
his that would be determinative for it. So the thought of his sur- 
vival, it seems to rne, is linked with those most intimate hopes that 
we have yet to direct toward life which is altogether to be rescued. 

I cannot at the moment, dear Herr von Winterfeldt, do more 
to comfort you than admit with entire conviction the great and 
unique worth of your friend. 

How indescribably, furthermore, I hold myself a loser you may 
understand from the circumstance that one of Marwitz's mag- 
nificent letters (written the 9th of August) has not only occupied 
me continually all these weeks, but (to be truthful) contained 
for me a human appeal such as has not fallen to my lot from any 
association for a long time. After that letter (the answering of 
which I incomprehensibly, tired and frustrated as I am, put off 
to a more favorable hour ) I was certain of having in young 
Bernhard von der Marwitz a friend, a close friend, and I regarded 
this relationship as a possession not yet entered upon, the future 
productivity of which seemed to me the more precious in that 
men have seldom sought my intimacy. Thus the number of my 
hopes, with which I have been left in the lurch, is at least as great 
as the quantity of your orphaned and uncontinuable memories: 
may this maintain a sort of lasting understanding between us, my 
dear Herr von Winterfeldt. 

Had you not expressed the wish to let me have a look (ad- 
visory) into the writings your friend has left, I should have come 
out with it as a request: in the feeling that this reciprocal, almost 
unexercised friendship would entitle me, with gentle affection still, 
to retrieve intimacy I had in a way neglected. 

And now to add a real request. If there was anyone in his im- 
mediate family (it seems to me he spoke particularly of a sister) 
with whom he had a really close understanding, I feel I would like 
to write that person a few words of sympathy and sorrow, per- 
haps even a certain assurance of devotion such as would be com- 
prehensible in one left behind with a quite unexpended affection. 

If you know such a person and advise my writing the letter, I 
beg you to give me the name and address. 

When we meet again, as I now the more sincerely wish we may, 
I shall be unable to repress many questions about his last days, 
as indeed I shall always be grateful to you for everything through 
which you connect me with his memory, which I love and honor. 

C o 3 

To Marie von Eunsen 34/IV Ainmillerstrasse, Munich 

September 22, 1918 

. . . The summer went, yes passed away over my head, nor did 
it bring the good hours out of which I hoped to write you more 
fully or perhaps more happily. For complaining and miserable 
words, wrung from an arid state, are indescribably in the wrong 
before you who possess the secret of preserving for yourself vistas 
in no matter how distorted a world, of finding in no matter how 
spoiled a one the good flavor of nourishing existence, and who 
are above all in a position still to conceive of history in that nobly 
traditional sense before which even the present, be it the most ir- 
responsible and impenetrable, will sometime have to elucidate 
itself as proportional continuity. 

Your new letter is again full of proofs of your lively and un- 
swervable determination: how you can still love the work of men; 
how you trace the confirmed and insubvertible order in it and, 
where palaces might make one reflect, recognize in the simplest 
farmhouse the achievement and solution of harmonious satisfac- 
tions from which spiritual fellowship, from which comfort 
emanates! How coldly, coldly, in comparison did I journey 
through Ansbach the other day. Saw, remembered, tried to ad- 
mire: but through the present malicious confusion I have come to 
be so suspicious of everything human, even far into the past. I 
can hardly stand before beautiful old things without being fright- 
ened at their forlornness, how lost they have become though 
they still continue to exist, in the midst of cautious people looking 
all about them, who beside some beautiful generous, prodigal 

_ 177 

thing have set up something not by any chance useful even no: 
a shameless sign of their exploitation, their non-reality, their 
nothingness! Doesn't one seem, I said to myself, to be moving in 
a world through whose greedy fingers its best inheritances have 
already been slipping for decades: for it is perhaps something al- 
most imperceptible that gives all heritage its significance; the zero 
groove that fades on the measuring rod, and the whole scale loses 
its genius, its rise and fall, its longing and tension and polarity. Is 
it not so? Would not a something have to vanish, to fall away, out 
of the proportion of doorframes and windows, out of the se- 
quence of stairs, out of the winding of grilles, before a time like 
this hopeless one of ours was possible? . . . 

I long for people through whom the past in its large lines con- 
tinues to be connected with us, related to us; for how much the 
future, particularly now the bolder and more daring one im- 
agines it is nevertheless still going to depend on whether it falls 
in with the direction of the deepest traditions and moves and is 
projected out of them (and not out of negation). The war 
robbed me of two young friends in August and September, 
precious ones, whom in the interests of that future we had so 
hoped for I infinitely deplore, a young Keyserlingk and that fine 
true young Marwitz from Friedersdorf, whom you may also have 
known. I was growing very fond of him . . . Losses, losses . . . 
if only each loss were a full pledge and relentless in demanding of 
us a life more serious, more responsible and more sensitive to 

To Countess 

Alive Dietrichstem 34 /IV Ainmillerstrasse, 

October 9, 1918 

... I do not want to complain again (and certainly not at this 
moment) of my indescribably benumbed and inhibited state of 
mind; but this it is with which the time has stricken me as it has 

thwarted and interrupted everyone in some way and through 
just this condition of inwardly turning to ice, which makes my 
heart almost inaccessible to me, I am continually shut out from 
everything: from friends, from Nature, and (most baffling of 
all) from the happiness and the fullness of my own work. You, 
my dear Countess, did not know me when this oppression was not 
yet upon me, when I lived in an open world and more than any- 
one else (I may well say) was borne along by the currents that 
carried the great inspirations of a common humanity across all 
lands and skies. When I now imagine that the day might come 
again when I could use my natural self, made for gazing and 
marveling, for acquiescing, for infinite worship, then I rejoice 
in this future for your sake too. You shall (this too I promised 
myself that day on the balcony, in the face of the rising thunder- 
.srorm), you, Countess Aline, shall always be among the few 
people who may claim a direct share in my being happy and 
clear, in my growing powers, as something that belongs to you 
as naturally as the sun of an open-hearted day, as the feel of a 
free wind, as a view over the clear valleys of the serene and har- 
monious landscape. 

All these years I have not asked myself (it would have been 
imprudent to do so) how much, with all the affliction, confusion 
and disfigurement of the world, I still believe in the great, in the 
consummate, widely inexhaustible possibilities of life; may your 
wedding-day be an occasion for me to test myself. And so I con- 
fess to you, dear Countess, that I hold life to be a thing of the most 
inviolable preciousness, and that the entangling of so much doom 
and horror, the prostituting of such countless destinies, everything 
that in these last years has been unconquerably growing for us 
into a still augmenting terror, cannot dissuade me of the fullness 
and goodness and congeniality of existence. There would be no 
sense in coming to you with wishes did not the one conviction 
precede all wishes, that out of subversion and destruction the 
goods of life spring clean and unspoiled and most deeply desir- 
able; but that I (although myself sad, dejected and bound to a 
heart I can scarcely unravel) can hold this conviction may this 

give my wishes the greatest and truest validity. And if on the one 
hand I thus vouch for the wonderful provisions of life, on the 
other I am inwardly convinced that you of all people will know 
how to value what it bestows at its most fundamental worth. 

The happiness and confidence of a courageous love fills your 
richly-endowed heart. Amid superficiality and chance you un- 
erringly recognized your destined companion and humbled your- 
self before the law that is related to those laws by which the 
stars move. And already this natural honesty and sincerity of 
yours has rewarded you, in that at one stroke not only was he who 
loved you loved, but the whole world turned a different face to 
you and was yours. And so on your beautiful wedding-day cele- 
brate the doing right and the being right of your heart! 
Celebrate it confidently, even though external confusions and 
tribulations still surround everything that is personal and of one's 
inner world. The moment for an awakening and a turning no 
longer seems quite out of reach and the happy new beginning and 
progress of your own life will perhaps soon be borne along by a 
current of universal awakening and good will. . . . 

To Clflra Rilke 34/IV Ainmillerstrasse, Munich 

November 7, 1918 

Your letter (of October 2 8th) with its great free breath blew 
in ahead of the events. We here in the city have now to go in- 
stead through all the ups and downs and the many newspapers, 
the hundred repugnant rumors and at every hesitation in the 
strife of that which finally has come, one's heart stops as though 
this future, still going on foot through the crowd, might stumble 
or turn back again. 

I was so busy watching and listening, and above all hoping, that 
I overlooked how long it must have been since I had written 
you both. Now, in face of your telegram, I reproach myself for 
having made you uneasy by this silence: there was no reason 
whatever for that. 

i So 


... In the last few days Munich has given up some of its 
emptiness and quiet, the tensions of the moment are noticeable 
here too, even though between Bavarian temperaments they don't 
act in an exactly spiritually elevating manner. Everywhere gather- 
ings in the beer-halls, almost every evening, everywhere speakers, 
among whom Professor Jaffe is of the first prominence, and 
where the halls aren't big enough, gatherings of thousands out 
of doors. I too was among thousands Monday evening in the Hotel 
Wagner; Professor Max Weber of Heidelberg, national econo- 
mist, who is regarded as one of the best minds and as a good 
speaker, spoke, after him in the discussion the anarchistically 
overstrained Miihsam, and then students, men who had been four 
years at the front, all so simple and frank and of-the-people. 
And although they sat around the beer-tables and between the 
tables so that the waitresses only ate their way through the human 
structure like wood-worms, it wasn't at all stifling, not even for 
breathing; the fumes of beer and smoke and people did not affect 
one uncomfortably, one hardly noticed them, so important was it 
and so above all immediately clear that the things could be said 
whose turn has come at last, and that the simplest and most valu- 
able of these things, in so far as they were to some extent made 
easily accessible, were grasped by the enormous multitude with 
a heavy massive approval. Suddenly a pale young worker stood 
up, spoke quite simply: "Did you, or you, or you, any of you," 
he said, "make the armistice offer? and yet we ought to do that, 
not those gentlemen up there; if we take possession of a radio 
station and speak, we common people to the common people yon- 
der, there will be peace at once." I can't repeat it half so well as 
he expressed it; suddenly, when he had said that, a difficulty as- 
sailed him, and with a moving gesture towards Weber, Quidde 
and the other professors who stood by him on the platform, he 
continued: "Here, these professor gentlemen know French, they 
will help us to say it right, the way we mean it . . ." Such mo- 
ments are wonderful, and how we have had to do without them in 
this very Germany where only invective found words, or sub- 

mission, which in its way was after all but a sharing in power of 
those who submitted. . . . 

Enclosed is a not uncomfortable letter from Grandmama Phia; 
it speaks for the Czechoslovaks that she feels comparatively calm 
and protected in the new state . . . 

P.S. Friday morning early. 

We have a remarkable night behind us. A soldiers', peasants' 
and workers' council has now been set up here too, with Kurt 
Eisner as first president. The whole first page of the Mi'mchener 
Neueste is taken up by a decree he has issued, through which the 
Bavarian Republic explains that peace and security are assured 
the inhabitants. The night's enterprise was preceded by a gather- 
ing on the Theresienwiese attended by a hundred and twenty 
thousand people. Now it only remains to be hoped that this un- 
usual insurrection will engender sense in people's heads and not 
go on beyond to fatal intoxication. So far everything seems quiet 
and one cannot but grant that the time is right when it tries to 
take big steps. 


To Dr. Burschell 34/IV Ainmillerstrasse, Munich 

November u, 1918 

With this morning's mail the expected letter from the Bernese 
Legation has at last arrived; I must now get myself ready to travel, 
possibly earlier than I assumed yesterday. With the increased 
work this puts on me I cannot think of preparing a talk to the 
students and so beg you not to instigate anything of the sort for 
the present. 

If my trip should still not come off, I would seek an opportunity 
for talking over this plan with you again. 

The morning paper, which brings the reassurance that most 
businesses are functioning and in order, speaks for the fact that 
the hour now belongs not so much to words as to quiet confirma- 
tion through work. 


To Margarete Hethey 34 /IV Ainmillerstrasse, Munich 

December 2, 1918 

You were not mistaken when you assumed that Herr von 
Kaufmann's proposals would very much appeal to me: in fact 
I actually read the interesting pages with the readiest wish that 
some such establishing of contact might be possible; my past 
would in that case indicate France for me, and even a fortnight 
ago an attempt to establish relations with Paris would have seemed 
not entirely hopeless. Since then, through third parties, I have 
unfortunately been informed of such a definitely and conclusively 
irreconcilable attitude that I cannot but fear only time, if not 
indeed much time, can bring about a gradual amelioration. 

In spite of this I would, since of course I remain in many ways 
dependent on foreign countries, be very grateful for a chance to 
confer along these lines with you and through your kindness with 
Herr von Kaufmann; perhaps something could be arranged for 
the end of the week (Saturday? ) ? My time is pretty well taken up 
until then, and as a number of appointments usually exhaust my 
powers of absorption, I never dare undertake more than one 
matter of an afternoon. . . . 


To the Presidency of the North 

Austrian Government, Vienna 

The undersigned respectfully begs to call attention to the 

When in May of this year he learned through the newspapers 
that an honor had been most graciously bestowed upon him, he 
immediately decided to decline it; for it has always been his inten- 
tion never to accept any decoration that might be designated to 
him. At that time informed friends called his attention to the fact 
that since he was still in the army he had no right to exercise such 
a refusal. 

The official notification of the bestowal of this honor, as well 
as the order itself, have only now reached the undersigned, at a 
moment when he is free to act according to his conviction; may he 
therefore be permitted to return the order together with all the 
accompanying papers to the office which conferred it. 

It would certainly be unfair to attribute this action of the un- 
dersigned to any lack of respect; he declines simply in order to 
remain personally inconspicuous, as his work as an artist uncondi- 
tionally obliges him to do. 

R. M. Rilke 
Munich, December 17, 1918 

To Dorothea Baroness von Ledebur 34/IV Ainmillerstrasse, 

December 19, 1918 

. . . Your news, though it comes from a house plunged in the 
deepest mourning, kindly reassures me of your own immediate 
welfare; quite particularly I can feel with you that the return of 
Baron Ledebur will at last permit a real life together again! How 
long it may last no one will dare to say in his own case, for whereas 
before during these last cruel years one had two conceptions 
war and peace everything has now fallen apart in a confusion of 
anonymous fragments which the individual finds himself unable 
to piece together. 

I confess that I was able to feel a certain quick and happy con- 
fidence in the overturn itself, for ever since I can remember, I 
have wished humanity nothing more urgently than that it might 
some time or other be empowered to turn up an entirely new page 
of the future, on to which the whole wrong sum of the un- 
fortunate past need not be carried over. The revolution seemed 
to me a moment so endowed. But it was taken up and carried out 
by such a casual and profoundly uninspired minority the spirit 
did not try to enter and force its way in until afterwards, and 
even this was spirit only in name and had no youth and no con- 


vincing fire in its nature. Perhaps revolutions are possible only in 
very full-blooded moments, in any case not after a four-year 
bloodletting. Because we have never seen peace as a whole, but 
are only picking up the thousand fragments into which, falling 
from all our hands, it broke, we have each one of us missed the 
deep breath of relief that seemed to have been promised us. After 
the indescribable exertions and trials of the war, a moment of 
security and rest would have been the last thing one could forgo; 
one does not see how the enormous exertion that is continually 
needed can now follow upon the intense exertions of the military 
campaigns. Moreover I understand by revolution the conquering 
of abuses for the benefit of the deepest tradition, and from this 
point of view I look upon today and tomorrow, as you may im- 
agine, with the greatest concern. Nevertheless let us, each in our 
own little spot, plant a fervent hope. My inclination is now more 
than ever to do what I really can, quite against the call of the time 
which would like to seduce everyone away from his real ability 
into a political dilettantism. 

C 73 

To Anni Mewes 34 /IV Ainmillerstrasse, Munich 

December 19, 1918 

No, there is no question of any more agreeable news from here; 
under the pretext of a great overturn the old lack of principle 
works on and gives itself airs under the red flag. It is terrible to 
say it: but all this is just as little true as the summonses that 
exhorted to the war; neither this nor those were made by the 
spirit. . . . 

My little confidence in a new clean beginning (for which, to 
be sure, even the most natural forces are now lacking) is indeed 
not altogether gone, but still I must nurse it like a highly fragile 
little plant, in which process I can observe too how cold and 
sunless my inner climate has become. 

People, who have of course also gathered here now in large 
numbers, have only frightened me on the whole; individuals, 

where they spoke out, were often close and moving to me 
especially people coming back from the field, cheated of almost 
every token of homecoming! 

And yet, yet: how hopeful the individual is again and again, 
how real, how well-intentioned, how rich, then when one sees 
the doleful confused multitude, one does not understand how he 
loses himself in it so tracelessly, as it were. 

... If I look forward to the holidays it is because I hope to 
settle down more solitarily than most days during these last weeks; 
if you were here you would have to spend a long evening with me; 
I should not take it as company but as a dear natural sounding 
in harmony with me. And surely whichever of us were the sad- 
der would be the more consoling. 


To Elisabeth Baroness Schenck 

zu Schweinsberg 34/1V Ainmillerstrasse, Munich 

January 5, 1919 

If I were to say what binds me to people in the most touching 
way, it is these tokens of steadfastness that are sometimes, richly 
as they are undeservedly, given to one: the happy pcrenniality of 
a memory that apparently without any care still goes on and 
survives in the manifold and distracting (alas, in the so indiscrim- 
inate) congestion of life and, in the midst of loss, brings a subtle 
sure permanence to mind in him who a moment ago was still be- 
wildered by a surface of transiency. How one's thoughts collect 
at such moments of being remembered as you, charming Caprese 
of long ago, were able to prepare for me in a few lines, a few pic- 
tures! Alas, I too need to remain connected with that past; the 
longer the exceptional period of the war lasted, the denser and 
more impenetrable it grew, the more did I take pains not to be 
separated by it from all that had been, the more did I insist on 
keeping what was happy, open, guileless in my past, indeed, on 
nourishing and continuing myself, across the terrible interruption, 
out of this very past. Practically my only achievement in these 


dreadfully annihilated years was to believe in what once in the 
past was mine, in Capri, in Rome, in Paris, in Russia, in Egypt and 
Tunis in all the marvelous sheer happenings of my life, to which 
a different future seemed to belong. Tell me yourself, how else 
should I have survived, I especially, to whom the onset and course 
of all that has happened since 1914 could mean nothing after all 
but revocation and insanity? But I do not really know whether 
I have survived. My inner self has shut itself up more and more. 
As though to protect itself, it has become inaccessible even to me, 
and so I do not know now whether in my heart's core there is 
still the strength to venture upon world-relationships and realize 
them, or whether only a tombstone of my former spirit has quietly 
remained there. I still do not know, and have not been able (for 
how long) to give myself the slightest proof of inner activity; the 
intersection point of my forces has lost its starriness, has fallen 
out of the great constellations that used to shelter and support 
it in spiritual space. 

And with us it is not at all to be taken for granted that we 
survive years of unproductiveness, of hindrance years that 
somehow leave one out of use. With women it is different. Do you 
know the letters of Caroline Schlegel-Schelling, two volumes 
shall I send them to you? They should become a reinforcement 
for you in moments when you yourself incline to doubt the fruit- 
fulness and meaning of your own life just because for a few 
years perhaps it may not lend itself to any entirely gratifying use. 
Today as formerly, Elisabeth von Schenk, I believe 'wholly in 
your riches: if you cannot make full use of them now, that can- 
not lessen them and ought not to lower their value in your own 
mind. . . . 

To Emil Lettre 34/IV Ainmillerstrasse, Munich 

January 5, 1919 

Do not think me forgetful: your cuff-links are at my wrists, 
and were they not, there would still be inner proofs enough of my 

_ 187 

obligations to you. The Insel Yearbook which goes to you here- 
with (with four of my contributions) I had taken to the post 
office at the end of December, but I had to bring it back home 
again, as well as all my letters, the registration windows being 
hopelessly crowded for an hour ahead. Hence the unpunctuality! 
I wish for you what I wish ever more determinedly and ever more 
desperately for myself: work possibility, strength and joy for 
'work! May this difficult, and confused, and yet less burdened 
year grant us that! 

I still have not been to Switzerland. I have just put off the trip 
again. Beside all the longing to get out and refresh my gaze, dulled 
by the local scene, in a more open one, I keep feeling the obliga- 
tion to see that my establishment and my apartment in Munich 
should first have been of some use. The quarters in which you 
know I have been since March, have not yet properly benefited 
me: instead of protecting me they have, I don't know how, at- 
tracted more and more restlessness to me! My inner instability 
is probably responsible for that; it makes me more susceptible 
to people and chance happenings, to every sort of distraction, than 
I have been for years. 

To communicate in writing about what the time has conjured 
up over us has little meaning: revolution to me would mean a 
simple setting-aright of man and the work he gladly would and 
could do. Every program that does not set t his aim as its end seems 
to me just as hopeless as that of any of the former governments 
and people in power . . . 


To Countess Stauffenberg 34/IV Ainmillerstrasse, Munich 

January 23, 1919 

Since the end of last year I have been meaning to send you the 
Insel Almanac: it goes to you so late that it no longer has its own 
excuse of arriving at the beginning of the year. I would hardly 
have dared recall myself to you in such an impromptu fashion, 
had not the selection of my contributions to this calendar been 


essentially determined by the sad event, now almost a year old, 
through which I may consider myself associated with you. 

The Comtesse de Noailles's lovely poem, my two little ex- 
periments, but especially the diary-page which I have published 
under the title "An Experience" all these, each in its own way, 
contain approaches to the border-sensations of existence and all 
strive toward that divinable balance I once found incomparably 
represented in a fragment of ancient music. Romain Rolland, who 
played it for me, had found it in a Gregorian mass. As I heard it 
and heard it again, I had the impression of two scale-pans that, 
gently ceasing to fluctuate, came to rest opposite each other. I 
described my sensation to Rolland and only then did he confess 
that this was an ancient grave-inscription, a musical grave- 
inscription: the most striking confirmation of which certainly was 
that it could be grasped and understood through such an image. 

What I have called "An Experience" happened to me exactly 
like that in the garden at Duino (near Trieste), now shot to bits 
and in ruins; one year after this remarkable incident, while in 
Spain, I tried to put down the facts with the utmost possible pene- 
tration and accuracy, in which process the realm of the sayable 
did not really seem to suffice. I know I have fallen short , per- 
haps I have not even made myself understood. Experiments of 
such a far-advanced kind may nevertheless lay claim to some in- 

If in the universal turbidity and bewilderment of human affairs, 
and now particularly of public life, I still see one task set clearly 
detached before me, it is this: to confirm confidence toward death 
-out of the deepest delights and glories of life: to make death, who 
never was a stranger, more distinct and palpable again as the 
silent knowing participant in everything alive. . . . 

T0 Countess Stauffenberg 34/IV Ainmillerstrasse, Munich 

February 5, 1919 

. . . For two weeks I have been reading the poems in [Ver- 
haeren's] "Flammes hautes" and reading them aloud, and in the 
midst of it I sometimes think it is his energy that drives my voice 
into these lines and compels me to make known and spread abroad 
how unswerving, how invincible at that very time (for the book 
was actually finished, just as it is, in July 1914) was his faith in 
mankind and in the certainty of that future which, as he believed r 
would arise as the tall flame from human unity, from brotherly 
agreement! If ever anyone prevailed over himself to apply all- 
confidence struggling, streaming, rushing upward to God, every 
demand and every infinite need in a word, everything that is 
called faith ; if anyone ever applied all this horizontally, to man- 
kind and only to mankind at the risk of being left incredibly 
alone : this great poet gave such proof of heroic faith in man- 
kind with his whole heart, grown up with God and Nature, as 
every page in the "Flammes hautes" consummately testifies. 

As during the whole interruption of life by the war for me 
so profoundly frustrating one's deepest obligation seemed to be 
to give up nothing of what mankind had previously gained and 
acknowledged after honest search, so it is now my passion to fit 
life, which is eager to go on and better-intentioned now than ever, 
to the violent ruptures of that fateful month of August, and from 
among the many pregnant voices of those days to transmit and to 
glorify the powerful and true voice of my great friend! 

Read . . . the poem "Au passant d'un soir": I read it as a 
legacy, because it gives me back Verhaeren in the intensity of one 
of his moments and at the same time most lastingly. 


To Countess Stauffenberg 34 /IV Ainmillerstrasse, Munich 

February 15, 1919 

. . . Who knows whether *we have not the hardest part of 
confusion and danger to overcome, and whether the next genera- 
tion may not grow up into a world that is at once spontaneously 
of the future: for the watershed of the war, horribly high as it 
was, must after all make possible a flowing off into the farthest and 
the new; and I tell myself that in the essential nature of upheavals 
like the one we are at present going through, there must also be at 
work a most profound rightness, a resolve of humanity as a whole: 
which indeed, when it gathers itself together, however clumsily, 
is always impelled again into the realm of divine powers, as a 
thing blind, but in all its good intentions blessed! 

To Countess M. 34/IV Ainmillerstrasse [Munich] 


Do you think your youngest . . . already too grown up and 
proud to take interest and pleasure in the Freyhold books? If so, 
I think she will conquer her objections once more when she sees 
her brothers and sisters and, as I foresee, you yourself gladly oc- 
cupied with them: surely they are the most delightful picture- 
books there are, and how few people know them! 

To understand the malicious agitation about Rodin in Paris 
one has to know how strong opposition was in the Chamber when 
the suggestion was introduced that the Hotel de Biron be given 
over permanently to his works as the Musee Rodin: in return the 
city of Paris was to inherit all these works, but the good citizens 
were always worrying whether they were really getting enough 
counter-value by this arrangement; many contested the matter 
even at the time and sought to reduce as far as possible the value 
of Rodin's bequest, which the experts had estimated at nearly 

three million [francs] ; now this is the consequence of their ef- 
forts! This master, whose first step into the public eye was 
marked by the accusation that he had made the statue of the Age 
d'airain by means of casts from life, is subjected even after his 
death to the persecuting rancune that will not admit his enormous 
capability. A singularly persistent fate. 

It would have been quite possible for forgeries, especially il- 
legitimately reproduced bronzes, to get in among his works (I 
recall that of his smaller bronzes hardly one ever came back from 
an exhibition without tell-tale traces of having been misused in 
secret reproductions), but that a substantial part of his work is 
not by him must naturally remain a malicious inimical statement. 
The marbles were carried out to a certain refinement of surface 
from Rodin's clay models by M. Lebosse and other praticiens, but 
still undoubtedly always brought to the last finish by himself; of 
course certain of these assistants had in the course of years be- 
come "his hand" to such a degree that it would also be con- 
ceivable that there might be marbles in circulation which he did 
not even have to touch any more: these were nevertheless per- 
fected entirely under his own supervision, and if he put his name 
to them he would have done so with the same sense of responsibil- 
ity in which the masters of great art-periods acknowledged so and 
so many works that came, filled with their own most characteristic 
spirit, out of their immediate studio circle. That Rodin did not 
attack the marble in the block but each time had his clay model 
transferred into the stone, was a well-known fact he himself never 
concealed; and even his most powerful antagonists could hardly 
succeed in representing such a procedure as falsification, since 
there is probably hardly a sculptor today who would be capable 
of doing differently. (On the whole again a sad sign of the spirit 
of the times which without more ado believes another, even the 
greatest, capable of what it would permit itself.) 

The Isenheim visit may I beg for still further postponement?; 
this spring air overcomes me with a sheerly unconquerable fatigue; 
but even so I am doing my daily stint, even if creepingly so to 

speak, which for the moment consists in translations from the 
Italian. So hour after hour goes by until, as early as nine o'clock, 
I resign myself to well-earned rest. 

To Baroness Heyl zu Herrnsheim 34/IV Ainmillerstrasse, Munich 

March i, 1919 

... As for me, there predominates in me, with all my worry, 
a broad confidence that looks out over and beyond this utmost 
urgency, a feeling I never knew toward the phenomenon of the 
war. Only now have ideals really become clear the most human 
and most irresistible ideals and we should not be misled by the 
fact that the multitude stands up for them so ponderously and 
awkwardly and helplessly; it knows no better. And on the other 
hand we should not be misled by the fact that those who do not 
yet want to raise the question of the maturity of this multitude 
for its rights, try to secure themselves by all the antiquated means 
of opposition; did there not flow between the parties the lying 
flood of the press, out of which the most deceptive vapor clouds 
constantly arise, perhaps an understanding would be compara- 
tively foreseeable. 

The war could be nothing other than an ending; it was an ex- 
treme, following its own inner anomalousness, a breaking off of 
humanity from itself. Only a new beginning of existence could 
set in after it. In this beginning we now are, and it is of course the 
first condition of the future that it cannot be easy: how could 
it be? 

A hard, hard beginning. Nothing new for me; I have felt, ever 
since I can remember, like a beginner. 

To Elisabeth von der Heydt 34 /lV Ainmillerstrasse, Munich 

March 20, 1919 

. . . Just quickly a word about Ruth. For two months now 
she has been, so to speak, a farmhand; that was her way of taking 
the revolution; she longed to work and only the most practical 
would satisfy her. On the i5th of January she started in, just 
when it was coldest, moved into a little maid's room to the north, 
without a stove, began her day's work in all seriousness at 6 
o'clock, and sank dead tired into her coarse checkered peasant's 
bed at half past eight. Dead tired and happy beyond words. Never 
have I had gayer letters from her. When I approached her after 
a few weeks with another proposal, she thought it over and then 
turned it down: for, she wrote, it was just this that satisfied her 
to be doing something not like school work any more but wholly 
real, belonging in life-sized life; being necessary in this little spot 
was giving her an indescribable, pure joy, and as there were not 
exactly too many happy people just now, she was the more de- 
termined to keep her happiness. Can one experience that more 

I naturally hope it will take its course: but then this intermezzo 
will have been a better training than any imaginable school, and 
as it had such intensity of joy and life it will acquire the sig- 
nificance of those great things that happen to us, which one can- 
not provide for oneself and no one can provide for anyone 
else. . . . 


To Anton Kippenberg 34 /IV AinmiUerstrasse, Munich 

May 22, 1919 

. . . The embargo on mail, externally long since lifted, still 
continues in me; for who would not rather remain silent about 
the experiences we had here in April, and particularly about those 
other infringements and interferences that have been going on 


since the first of May. "Poison" and "antidote"; but the right 
deeper therapeutics is nowhere being used, sore though the mo- 
ment confesses itself to be. 

From a purely domestic, housekeeping point of view we have 
not had to suffer much, thanks to Rosa's foresight, but one's spirit 
has been damaged. Since my lingering cold I have not gained 
much in health either, my body longs for helpful change and 
everything suspended and watchful in me is indescribably ready 
to think that it is right. So I grasped the friendly hand, offered me 
again yesterday in a telegram from Switzerland, with an affirma- 
tive answer. It now seems possible to get in through the Hottingen 
reading circle, perhaps the permission will follow in a few 
days. . . . 

At present I doubt whether later, on my return, I shall keep 
my Munich quarters; one hears and sees nothing but departures; 
many of the most permanent residents are giving up their houses, 
here and there great moving vans spend the night before their 
gates; for most people believe that from now on innocent Munich 
may continue to be a bad and uneasy spot, and that, worse luck, 
not because of the temperament, but because of the sluggishness 
of the mass now that it has been set in motion. Who knows, dear 
friend, but I may choose Leipzig for next fall and winter; I turn 
over the idea often . . . 

n ?:] 

To Countess Aline Dietrichstein Soglio (Bergell, Graubiinden) 

August 6, 1919 

You wrote me on the i4th of June three days earlier I had 
gone to Switzerland, an undertaking long hoped for, finally 
realized when I hardly thought of it any more, and which I am 
now in the midst of. Well, you can imagine that I needed to get 
away from Munich: really and actually one did not have to suf- 
fer too much, the newspapers, in their way, exaggerated a lot , 
but emotionally it was an indescribable and, worst of all, in the 

end a futile tension in every direction. For behind so much upset, 
racket and malicious crowding there was after all no will to real 
change and renewal, to share and to take part in which one would 
have been only too ready. The intellectual would of course have 
to be from the start an opponent and disavower of revolutions; he 
of all people knows how slowly all changes of lasting significance 
are accomplished, how inconspicuous they are and, through their 
very slowness, almost imperceptible, and how Nature, in her con- 
structive zeal, hardly anywhere lets intellectual forces come to the 
fore. And yet on the other hand it is the same intellectual who, 
by reason of his insight, grows impatient when he sees in what 
miscarried and muddled conditions human things are content and 
persist: indeed, we are all continually experiencing the fact that 
this and that almost everything needs changing (and that at 
the root): life, this infinitely rich, infinitely generous life, that 
is permitted to be cruel only by very reason of its inexhaustibility: 
life itself in how many instances it simply cannot make itself 
effective any more, pushed aside as it is by a lot of secondary 
institutions, grown lazy by their continuance, who would not 
often wish for a great storm that would tear down everything 
obstructive and infirm, to make room for the again creative in- 
finitely young, infinitely benevolent forces. There is no doubt 
that many such clean and forceful impulses collaborated in the 
birth of the revolution: for the only thinkable counterweight to 
the dreadful war would have been if a new state of mind on 
humanity's part, prepared to be different, had here and there 
arisen and penetrated various parts of the shocked and bewildered 
world. For a moment one hoped. But the preponderance of 
material aspirations and inferior, if not indeed evil and vengeful 
impulses, almost in its first hours destroyed the cleaner future of 
this forward drive, joyful at first, but later desperate and finally 
totally senseless in the whirlpools of which many innocent per- 
sons went under and almost all those who thought to carry ahead 
a vision of humanity, impatient indeed, but noble. Strictly speak- 
ing, the unswerving intellectual could side with neither party in 
this chaotically confused struggle which the poison of the stag- 


nated war turned back as it was into the country further and 
further provoked; neither with those who drove ruthlessly ahead 
nor with those who met the often criminal outbreaks of this in- 
sanity with old and no less unjust and inhuman means: the future 
lay with neither, and to it the intellectual is after all allied and 
sworn, not in the sense of the revolutionary, who would presume 
to create from one day to the next a humanity freed (what is 
freedom?) and happy (what is happiness?), but in that other 
patient understanding that he is preparing in people's hearts those 
subtle, secret, tremulous transformations out of which alone will 
proceed the agreements and unities of a more clarified future. If 
now, my dear Countess, you will measure against these thoughts 
of mine the sad and from day to day more hopeless events that 
have taken place since November, and take into account also with 
how little foresight and reflection, how witlessly they have been 
combatted , then you will understand how much I am likely to 
have suffered. Not so much under privation aftd uncertainty as 
under this very disappointment and worry that reaches out be- 
yond one's own life and its realizations. But finally I did have to 
think once more about this life too, mine, and the tasks that have, 
after all, been set it, and before which it has stood for five years 
hampered and paralyzed, without collecting itself for its own in- 
most function. And so from day to day the wish grew for some 
thorough external change, such as has always had most acute 
influence on me for a journey into some foreign country not 
directly affected by the war, for its landscapes, cities, streams, 
bridges, woodlands: since what I have suffered most in losing 
during these painful last years has been just this very contact of 
mine with Nature, usually so close. I could no longer succeed in 
making it. The human being of this war, and every one of his 
contemporaries, I myself, seemed to me so far removed from the 
world of Nature , it seemed to me arbitrary and untrue to have 
recourse to a tree, a field, the clemency of evening, for what did 
the tree, the field, the evening landscape know of this hapless, 
devastating, killing human being? It is true that neither have 
these things fundamentally any share in one kindly disposed, 


constructive, blessed, but still there is an inexpressible connection: 
between a person peacefully working, creating, and Nature busy- 
ing herself in holy and thorough fashion. 

... so here too (for my consciousness) a rift had become 
apparent, to which I was the more sensitive since that secret 
unison, that being in tune with the natural, as I know better all 
the time, somehow belongs to the premises of my productiveness r 
even of my daily life itself. If man would only cease to invoke 
the cruelty in Nature to excuse his own! He forgets how in- 
finitely innocently even the most terrible happens in Nature; she 
does not watch it happen she hasn't the perspective for that; 
she is wholly in the most dreadful, even her fruitfulness is in it, 
her generosity it is, if one must put it that way, nothing other 
than an expression of her fullness. Her consciousness consists in 
her completeness; because she contains everything, she contains 
the cruel too; but man, who will never be able to encompass 
everything, is never sure, where he chooses the terrible let us 
say murder of already containing the opposite of this abyss, 
and so his choice, in the very moment of making him an exception, 
condemns him to be an isolated, one-sided creature who is no 
longer connected with the whole. The good, the straightly de- 
termined, capable man would not be able to exclude evil, fatality, 
suffering, harm, death from those interrelationships; but where 
one of them struck him or he became the cause of it, there would 
he stand exactly as one afflicted amid Nature, or, afflicting against 
his will, he would be like the devastating brook, swelled with those 
tumbling freshets whose influx into itself it is not able to shut 
out. . . . 

But now you ask about me in connection with Switzerland. 
Indeed, it is not so easy to travel after five years of immobility! 
At first it looked as though I didn't know how any more. . . . 
I felt the need to take advantage of my "freedom" and see the 
country, which in other years, it is true, I always regarded as 
merely a country of transit, in a sort of mistrust of its too f amous,, 
too obvious, too pretentious "beauty." Mountains are just natu- 
rally difficult for me to grasp, I was able to see the Pyrenees, the 

Atlas Mountains in North Africa belong to my grandest recol- 
lections, and when I read about the Caucasus in Tolstoy I had the 
indescribable fever of its immensity. But these Swiss mountains? 
They seem to me something of an obstacle anyhow, there are so 
appallingly many of them. Their shapes cancel each other; that 
somewhere a contour runs out clean against the sky, I can indeed 
establish with satisfaction, but I lack, how shall I express it, the 
image, the inner sensible parallel to it which alone makes the im- 
pression into an experience. First I had a little to do with the 
cities: Geneva . . . then Bern: and that was very very lovely. 
An old, enduring city, still quite unspoiled in many parts, with 
all the characteristics of a dependable and active citizenry, even 
to quite a high self-assurance expressing itself in like-minded 
houses that toward the street bear themselves with a certain re- 
serve above their arcades, but toward the Aar in their pretty gar- 
den fronts are of more communicative and open mind. Luckily I 
had Bernese friends there with fine old inherited houses of this 
sort, and that removed at one stroke the hotel atmosphere for me 
and helped me very much to experience the nature of the country, 
even where, as now once more displaced among strangers, I have 
to find myself to rights again from their level. About Zurich, that 
politically turbid city, there is hardly anything to say , it made 
me very anxious to get out of the cities: country and, if possible, 
southern skies over it that was in my mind's eye , and that has 
now come to fulfillment for a while here, in a special manner. A 
map of Switzerland will easily show you the situation of Bcrgell, 
the haste of this valley to reach Italy; above the valley, halfway up 
the mountain, lies this little gneiss-tile-covered nest, on the de- 
clivity a church (unfortunately Protestant and therefore empty), 
quite narrow streets; I am living in the very midst of it, in the 
old ancestral house of the Salis (Soglio line), even among their old 
furniture, and into the bargain the palazzo has a French terrace- 
garden with the old stone balustrades, traditionally cut box- 
hedges and between them a profusion of the gayest summer 
flowers. But I must tell you another time of the chestnut woods 

_ 199 

that extend down the slopes, toward the Italian side, in grandiose 

P.S. next morning: If only I had a certain book here: I would 
have liked to send it to you right away, in response to your in- 
quiry about books; at the moment it is not to be had in Switzer- 
land either, as the second edition was quickly sold out. I am now 
placing an order with the publisher to send it along to you in my 
name when it appears again, for the Austrian book business may 
be still slower now than it was anyway in the old days. The 
book in question is Count Hermann Keyserling's "Travel Diary 
of a Philosopher". A trip around the world by this excellent 
writer, which ended shortly before the war, is reflected in these 
everywhere fruitful notebooks, which, though they move in a 
wholly intellectual sphere, are still thoroughly effective for all 
they sense and see, the book of a man of the world in the rarest 
and most aristocratic sense, oriented in all directions, greatly as- 
senting and approving, and at the same time mobile, accurate and 
of the most perfect tact of feeling and conviction. Some six hun- 
dred pages, grand for reading aloud to each other in the garden 
or before the fire! . . . 

To Countess M. Soglio (Bergell, Graubiinden) 

August 13, 1919 

. . . Need I tell you that [my thanks] are heartfelt and a little 
homesick? For a moment, when you referred to it, I heard the 
stillness at R. and in it realized how well off I would have been 
there with you all. I picture this to myself actually and palpably, 
not in my mind but somewhere in my heart's range of vision and 
life seems really to be crowding and wasting itself on me in offer- 
ing both these things for one summer, Switzerland and R., 
quand-meme, la vie toute depourvue qu'elle semble, a encore 
d'etonnantes generosites ! My letter, the one of August 4, will 
meantime have described to you where I am living and now to be 


sure the prospect of this summer bringing me to you has closed in. 
Even here it will have been much much too short for me! That is 
due in part to my slowness, which is not to be exaggerated. I must 
be allowed to begin a life anywhere and give myself up to imagin- 
ing that at this place or that, if it is to become even to some extent 
favorable and friendly to me, infinite pasts have gone on, which 
with one branch at least seek to grow toward me and into me, as 
though they were my own or those of my family. It was like that 
even before the war, in Spain, in so acute a way that I left with 
reluctance after six months, and it is like that here now in this 
very special mountain nest. . . . Old houses, old things can 
acquire the most compelling power over me, the smell of old cup- 
boards and drawers is so familial to the nostrils. But I told you 
what a lot of this sort of thing is around me here I described the 
wood- and stucco-work and my four-poster, didn't I? and the old 
garden in whose trimmed box-frames all the wild bloom of sum- 
mer renews and obtrudes itself. But at that time I had not yet en- 
countered the most seductive of all: just think what was yet to 
reveal itself: an old room full of books, not usually accessible to 
guests, the old Sails library still preserved here in its entirety! An 
old-fashioned room, quiet, facing the garden (which now shines 
and buzzes in through the little open windows) , over the mantel a 
huge coat-of-arms of the Salis willow, before it an old spinet, in 
the middle a solid square seventeenth-century table, opposite that 
a high and mighty easy-chair, Louis-Quatorze, with the old em- 
broidered upholstery; at one of the three windows a real iron 
chest (the gigantic, much-bearded key lies on top of it) and for 
the rest? Books, books, books. Rows of them and cupboards full. 
Books of the seventeenth century, even many pigskin volumes, 
large and small, of the sixteenth (among them some Aldus and 
Elzevir); the memoir-literature of the eighteenth in enchanting 
leather bindings, a complete Linnaeus and naturally many volumes 
relating to Switzerland and the Confederacy, also the poets: 
Albrecht von Haller, whom I read in the day time . . . and 
Salis-Seewis (in the 1800 edition) where else should one read 
him! whom I reserve for the evening hours in case one 


of them should prove of a slightly more sentimental mood, 
Then I read him aloud, the forgotten one, in this room of books T 
and I am touched at the way he comes to voice, not exactly 
great, but still in the loveliest, purest lines, so pathetic and 
nightengalish, as befits that time and the garden, surviving out 
there, more surviving than the poet once inspired by eternity. 
So now you understand that I am doomed. How could I resist this 
room, in which I still make discoveries every day , and then the 
garden calls me, and then the chestnut woods come to mind: there 
is no getting through and no finishing. But you will understand. 
The moment is so delightful, this Venusberg encircling me in 
which a tangled rosebush is the Venus and books shine out like the 
alluring ore inside the mountain has me in its power, I do not 
want to plan beyond it let alone even think of the winter, for 
which I can imagine neither place nor mode of life. I am not really 
thinking of Munich at all for that purpose , but whither? 

To Elisabeth von Schmidt-Pauli Soglio (Bergell, Graubiinden) 

August 14, 1919 

That mountain of joys, Sister Elisabeth, from which you run 
breathlessly down into my expectation, always wide open for you 
that mountain of joys is evidently higher than anything I have 
before me here, its summit is suffused enduringly with the 
divine, and so I rejoice to know you full of blessings and full of 
inner tasks! May you succeed in much, and succeed imperiously > 
in the same spirit in which it has been laid upon you. All work on 
the present world is in vain that compromises with it; the 
absolutely-different must be presented to it, and even though this 
is at home in another sphere, one must move it down and into this 
world, implant it and naturalize it, even against the world's will. 
Now you know this just as well as I, only one should repeat 
over and over to oneself that compromising has no sense at this 
turning-point. Not between man and man, and not in general 


and absolutely not within one's own discussions with oneself. 

. . . Switzerland [is] certainly no country for me; it strikes me 
like one of those painted or modeled nudes intended to make 
apparent all the "beauties" of many women in a single figure; that 
is, if I mistake not, the aesthetic of Switzerland for us an abomina- 
ble one; which is also why her artists so quickly turn pedagogical, 
for where examples of every type are present together, what re- 
mains but to point to them, to consider them picture-books and to 
educate through them. Bern, which is one of the most beautiful 
cities, first helped as a focal point to give me an idea of the old 
life-permeating force of these states; Swiss history, in which the 
forces of Nature (not the outward forms of these interior 
countries) have proceeded along a straight line, is unified and easy 
to survey, is beautiful; this variety, contradictory and running to 
intensest exaggerations, could only grow into an entity in man, 
and the Swiss, however differently the separate cantons may have 
developed him, carries the consciousness of all his federated land- 
scapes in a singularly prepared and fruitful spot in an otherwise 
not easily penetrated mind. . . . 

All through this letter I have avoided speaking of impressions. 
Even were this landscape less eclectic, I would be unable to take 
any in. Spain was the last "impression". Since then my nature has 
been worked from inside (travail repousse), so strongly and 
steadily that it cannot be "impressed" any more. From all this you 
may understand what I am hoping from the winter. The beginning 
of that retirement granted somehow at last, for which I would now 
fully have the conscience, however much one ought on the other 
hand to be there for other people. Indeed I should then properly 
be there, infinitely more positive and able to hold out! 


ToAnniMewes Soglio (Bergell, Graubiinden) 

September 12, 1919 

. . . It seems to me I have already known the Vogeler pamphlet 
you send, in a somewhat different, obviously earlier form; in those 
days it did not yet bear the title "The Silver Steeds", but was 
called Expressionism of Love, one being as incomprehensible as 
the other. The incentive I can well understand, who would not 
have it? who would not wish for the making-good, the making- 
different, the sincerest and most widely-shared resolve toward 
humanity? But this resolve has not been taken, either in Russia or 
elsewhere, and it probably couldn't be taken because no god stands 
behind it who would urge it forward. What clothes itself with the 
pretext of this new brotherhood is really still the war, the destruc- 
tive element let loose and far from quieted: grown meaningless 
years ago, this desperation holds up a slogan over its head, shouts 
"Brotherhood", and yet itself contradicts it at every instant; for 
it is still the subsidence of war, the after-storm of those years, the 
revenge of misused and ravaged powers that now, since they have 
become ungovernable, think themselves busy in a larger service 
and yet are only overturning, as though a train leaping its tracks 
were a picture of freedom. Vogeler is anything but consistent, he 
is easy to refute, and I am sure conditions round about him refute 
him every day. Yet I, who have for so many years been privileged 
to be his friend, am moved by this outbreak of his calm and really 
shy nature: what shocks, what crashes, what earthquakes must 
have gone on in this man so variously and daintily entangled in 
his reveries, that he felt the need thus to cry out and use his in- 
fluence? This sentence grips me repeatedly: "A condition never 
known to man is in process of becoming: peace." In this decla- 
ration the sincerity of the former Heinrich Vogeler is increased by 
something infinite: by an actual having-suffered, by a having- 
been-in-hell and thereafter hoping indeed, it is out of an immense 
reality of emotional experience that these words go forth, as 


though spoken by one resurrected, who is no longer to be misled, 
even though he comes out of a sepulchral moment and arises 
staggering into a chaos. All these voices can hardly help. The 
expressionist, that inner-man become explosive, who pours the 
lava of his boiling mood over all things, to insist that the chance 
form in which the crust hardens is the new, the coming, the valid 
outline of existence, is simply a desperate man and one may let the 
honest ones among them go ahead and blow off steam. Perhaps 
through these striking and importunate manifestations (which 
become utterly repulsive only in their commercial utilization) 
men's eyes will be diverted from the delicate growth of that 
which really, little by little, will show itself as the future. It is 
so understandable that people have become impatient, and yet, 
what is more needed now than patience; wounds require time and 
do not heal by having flags planted in them. In some other way 
must the world enter into a stable consciousness, and perhaps that 
by which it first finds itself again will be something quite in- 
conspicuous, in any case something inexpressible! To me the 
least thing seems building-up, which each individual attempts in 
his own place, the carpenter simply planing again, the smith 
hammering again, the merchant again reckoning and reflecting: 
these are the progressives, these are the pure revolutionaries, the 
more they strive, the more quietly and busily and lovingly they 
work, each in his place. . . . 

C 131 3 

To Gertrud Ouckama Knoop Soglio (Bergell, Graubiinden) 

September 12, 1919 

. . . Picture to yourself that being "abroad" was almost a strain 
at first. One didn't quite know how any more, one spent half 
days (or was it only I?) in front of the perfumers' reading the 
names of Houbigant, Roger and Gallet and Pinaud; yes, for a 
little moment that was what freedom meant, who would have 
thought that possible? The pastry shops did not impress me 

nearly as much and so far I haven't yet bought any chocolate, 
but soaps fascinated me, I was really defenseless against one of 
those clean overfilled showwindows in Zurich's Bahnhofstrasse. 
By such roundabout ways, however ridiculous they may have 
been, I arrived slowly at the rest: at the French bookshops and 
art-galleries, at the bustle of the streets and traffic, even, with 
some effort, at Nature. Too bad that in Switzerland Nature seems 
to me to occur only in exaggerations; what demands these lakes 
and mountains make, how there is always something too much 
about them, they have been broken of the habit of simple mo- 
ments. The admiration of our grand- and great-grand-parents 
seems to have collaborated on these regions; they came traveling 
along out of their own countries where there was, so to speak, 
"nothing" and here there was "everything", in de-luxe editions. 
Good heavens: a drawing-room-table Nature, a Nature with ups 
and downs, full of excess, full of duplication, full of underlined 
objects. A mountain? save us, a dozen on every side, one behind 
the other. A lake: certainly, but then at once a magnificent lake, 
of the best quality, with reflections of purest water, with a gallery 
of reflections and the good Lord, as custodian, explaining them 
one after the other when he doesn't happen to be busy as stage- 
director turning the searchlights of evening's red glow toward the 
mountains, whence all day the snow hangs down into the summer, 
so that one may have all the "beauties" so nicely together. For 
winter of course has its own beauty, and so the most perfect thing 
is not to be deprived of it while feeling secure among the warmed 
enjoyments of the opposite ... I can't help it, I reach this as- 
sorted Nature most easily with my irony, yes, and I remember 
the lovely times when, traveling through here, I used to draw to 
the curtains of the compartment, whereupon the rest of the 
travelers in the corridors greedily devoured my share of view 
with theirs I am sure there was none left over. 

Now you are saying: how ungrateful this fellow has become 
at every turn, wantonly ungrateful! He is ungrateful toward 
Munich, which after all did provide him in such insuperable times 
with a not unfriendly refuge, and now he is ungrateful even about 


his new enviable freedom, which he mocks instead of humbly 
recuperating through it. No, it really isn't as bad as that with me: 
I even believe I am beginning to understand Switzerland, in her 
singular penetrativeness and hereditary unity. This I owe Bern, 
where the most hospitable weeks were prepared for me, and 
whence these lands that Nature has built out of boundaries and 
obstacles become distinct in a remarkable clarity and transpar- 
ency. Switzerland's history is full of natural force; the people, 
wherever they came together here as a mass, had something of 
the consistency and hardness of the mountains and their im- 
petuous will has in the most decisive moments been a continua- 
tion of that irresistibility with which her torrents arrive in the 
valleys. And to what an exact and well-formed self-assurance 
this experienced and proven force has developed in the expressive 
cities: how unanimous Bern stands there, every house above its 
fretted stone arcades, which draw in even the traffic under their 
protection too, so that outside there remain only the markets 
and the wonderfully picturesque fountains that make even the 
water into a good citizen! One readily decides to explain the Swiss 
himself as a part of this security: that is the easiest way of under- 
standing his outline and his structure, the ground material of 
which seems indeed to have been kneaded from the most homo- 
geneous mass and cut from the whole: so that in each individual 
the nation is present (what we miss so at home, where we always 
have to do with the obtuse or even the amorphous, or else are con- 
fronted by the individual as an exception). Singular, by the way: 
psychoanalysis takes on the most pervasive forms here: almost all 
these perfectly clean and angular young people get analyzed , 
now think that out for yourself: one of those sterilized Swiss, in 
whom all corners are swept and scoured , what sort of an inner 
life can take place in his mind, which is germ-free and shadow- 
lessly lighted like an operating room! ... I have been here six 
weeks; only, how slow! really to come to my senses, sojourn and 
season would have to be granted me indefinitely. And in the end 
I still ask: Munich? What does it promise? How will the winter 
be? (which will surely have to become my winter too). . . . 



To Countess M. Begnins sur Gland (Vaud) 

September 26, 1919 

Soglio is far behind me now. ... I am writing you from Beg- 
nins, a village above Nyon, where there is a pension installed in a 
little chateau with which I had a cursory acquaintance, and where 
I am today to meet a young girl from Paris. I am curiously excited: 
Marthe, whom I found in the last stage of destitution when she 
was seventeen, was my protegee, a working girl, but of that spon- 
taneous geniality of heart and mind that is probably to be found 
only among French girls. What surprises, what indescribable, 
yes, overflowing happiness she gave me in certain years through 
her wide-awake understanding of the greatest and most perfect, 
which surpassed my own. I do not know if any human being has 
ever similarly shown me what a spirit can spontaneously unfold 
into if one gives it a little room to live in, a little quiet, a little bit 
of good climate. It will be almost a return to Paris for me, the 
meeting with this creature who knows about me with the deepest 
conviction; through her even if it is only a few days I can spend 
with her I shall soonest be able once more to heal on to the 
ruptured surface of my former life; Marthe's hands will hold the 
fractured end and the new beginning tenderly against each other. 

. . . When I think it over, I would say you are entirely right, 
Munich had long since become only depressing for me, and when 
I think of the return to Germany , it would be a relief to return 
elsewhere. ... I almost wish you would give up the city . . . , 
for the winter will be in many ways more tolerable and more 
natural in the country, from all they say and fear. . . . 

Leaving Soglio was not easy. Many inner workings were 
thereby interrupted. And what began as joy finding the little 
library so suitable and so made for me had to pass away in melan- 
choly: some day to have such a room for a long, long time, and 
all the solitude of a house and garden with it God provide it for 
me. This only and nothing else. . . . 


C *33 3 

To Anton Kippenberg Hotel Baur au Lac, Zurich 

December 2, 1919 

. . . Since the 2yth of October (the day of my first Zurich 
reading; I read there twice) I have been on a regular tour: St. 
Gall, Lucerne, Basel, Bern, Winterthur followed one upon the 
other, in all seven evenings. All good, some surprising for every- 
one concerned. I hit upon a curious procedure which proved most 
persuasive to the Swiss, who are stolid, often arid, and hard to 
penetrate. I did not simply read poems but began with a general 
introduction which was about the same everywhere I went, 
whereas I led off the second part of the evening with an abso- 
lutely impromptu causerie, flexibly adapted to the particular 
place, which led back over various subjects (. . . in Winterthur 
finally, where excellent pictures had been assembled, I centered 
my observations around Cezanne) to my work and, quite im- 
perceptibly, prepared and explained it in such a way that even 
very personal and "difficult" poems were then unusually well re- 
ceived. I did not even hesitate occasionally to set up little plat- 
forms of understanding before the individual poems too; all this 
in a lively, spontaneous way, letting the moment suggest what was 
appropriate. With Italian or French translations I first read the 
text of the original, which was quite the right thing for the Swiss, 
who are mostly polylingual. I probably owe it to this simple idea 
that, as they tell me, even Geneva papers and especially the 
Gazette de Lausanne commented favorably on my readings: I 
myself read, as is my custom, no press opinions . . . 

I made many and valuable friends: in Basel particularly one of 
the finest and most admired houses (of the patrician Burckhardts) 
was and still is open to me as more than a guest a friend. But do 
not, dear friend, expect a financial return; the societies that en- 
gaged me are in part newly founded and poor, in part abstrusely 
avaricious; living was expensive everywhere, and the stopping- 
places so far apart that I had pretty well used up the fee for one 


lecture by the next; by roundabout ways there will certainly be 
some income, for the booksellers, whom I also see, are quite 
dizzy with the sale of my books. 

. . . The next number [of the Imelschiff] will meanwhile con- 
tain nothing of mine, for December is here, the issue is probably 
already completed, and for me these weeks were too restless to 
write anything down; they also required continuous, uninter- 
rupted outgiving; not through the lectures alone, but because they 
brought people to me everywhere, and I took it seriously, try- 
ing not to appear parsimonious, so far as genuine giving was ex- 
pected. . . . 

To Anton Kippenberg Pension Villa Muralto, Locarno, (Tessin) 

December 29, 1919 

. . . Order and protection! Dear friends, when will that be 
granted me for my greater tasks, and where? ! For once in my 
life a year removed from all chance intrusion and intercourse, in 
the quiet of the country, steady, regular, in an immediate environ- 
ment that is congenial at all times. I can assure you that with each 
day I know better what I need, but the conditions grow con- 
tinually more precise and in the end are not to be bargained with. 
Look at Soglio! You felt right away, before I told you, what a 
head start it gave me from one day to the next. And there it was 
just the room and a garden path; so much was lacking solitude, 
the right care and yet ...!... 

A still (to my shame) unanswered letter from Dr. Hiinich sug- 
gested that I might offer the Inselschiff that general introduction 
by means of which I thought I ought to help establish a rapport 
with my readings; but all that my papers contained were a few 
large- written catchwords: and what held them together under the 
inspiration of the moment that called them forth has vanished 
again, and I should be glad to have paid the price of its transitori- 
ness. For what pleases me is just this: that so far it has appeared 


only as the spoken word, as such possessing the whole tension 
that is so essentially different from the stored energy of the writ- 
ten word. 

I must also, dear friend, still keep you waiting for the article on 
the Aksakov Chronicle. Up at Soglio I could have written it (had 
the summer there only been three times as long! ) . Now I would 
rather not tackle it until I have leafed through my old Russian 
Aksakov again. Then the warmth of so many old memories would 
enter into the work too. 

And the "Bibliotheca Mundi" but, dear friend, what would 
we not have to take up and discuss. The tower room becomes 
urgent. And I believe that only there will the monstrous "inter- 
val" be ended which we, from that purely contemplative spot, 
saw dawn with all its fatalities. If I could only move in there soon 
for a few days' confident companionship! That is one of my 
wishes, just as it is one of yours we are agreed; and agreed in so 
many ways, dear loyal friend, that we may wish each other many 
things. For that is of course the assumption upon which, mutually 
wishing, one is neither mistaken nor deceived. We may take that 
risk . . . 

To Prince Schdnburg Pension Villa Muralto, Locarno, Tessin 

January 12, 1920 

... I hoped, when I left Soglio and the old Salis palace, to 
find somewhere a quiet old garden pavilion with old furniture, in 
which I might live more or less in retirement. After the upset and 
ruthless interferences and interruptions of these last years I need 
nothing so much as the quiet of a daily equable inner reflection, 
something of the sort I was once allowed to find for months in 
poor destroyed Duino; if that is a disgrace well, then I just am 
ashamed to be so entirely dependent on externals. I can't change 
it, I know I shall not be able to take up my work in full measure 
until some such refuge comes to my assistance; contact with 
people has now, more than ever, something confusing about it, 


in which a lot of situations are discussed that no one has a clear con- 
ception of, so that one remains reduced to repetitions and phrases, 
and my work was always so much inspired by being alone, that 
I must for its sake, quite positively and not just out of shyness 
of people, wish for quiet, especially where there is still so much 
impediment and fright to make good inwardly. And my wishing 
for old things about me, that is not aesthetic affectation and be- 
ing fussy either; what humaneness have they not brought me 
(how often have I experienced it! ) in the very times when all 
intercourse had been given up: how much they tell, how much 
destiny passes from them to one who since childhood has held 
with things. That I have done since away back with eagerness 
and absorption. 

But a refuge of this sort, with this preliminary condition of most 
rigorous solitude, is hard to find , and I am indeed aware, one 
may not seek it: it must remain to the dispensation of chance to 
bring along such a privilege. . . . 

What you say of the region of Fribourg made me prick up my 
ears. ... If you would sometime, my dear Prince, think of 
mentioning the places that struck you as so very quiet and se- 
cluded, I would at any rate enter them in my notebook; but I 
shall also entirely understand if you keep them to yourself, for 
doesn't one already abolish a third of the secludedness of a region 
when one reveals it to someone? . . . 

How homeless we all are! Dr. Kassner, who is sitting in Oberst- 
dorf for the present and published a very important book just be- 
fore Christmas, laments to me about the destruction of Austria 
too; even staying on his brother's estate in Moravia has become 
quite different, he writes, since Vienna is no longer what it was. 
Where shall one go? In Germany particularly people like us will 
feel themselves strangers I know how little I was in my element 
in Munich. . . . 


To Dorothea Baroness von Ledebur Pension Villa Muralto, 

Locarno (Tessin) Switzerland 
January 15, 1920 

... It began to snow heavily here on the 23rd so that the prob- 
ability of Christmas, which had just before been very slight, rose 
to that degree of incomparable expectancy that is characteristic 
of this festival. How many lonely recollections I have had for 
years now of this evening, which I was very often obliged to spend 
in hotel rooms, in Tunis one year, in southern Spain once, in little 
hotels in Paris, then later in my apartment there, and now here 
in a Tessin pension, and always, often at the last moment and 
malgre moi, it became Christmas, often just because the wood in 
the stove crackled and one had to interpret that so furtively- 
f estively, whether one wanted to or not. What power this insistent 
festival has, I believe we have it in our blood, like something ele- 
mental, like ebb and flow, like the seasons, like the constella- 
tions , and it is the influence of a star too, at that. 

... It would hardly be wise for you to move to Austria when 
everyone there, aside from want and distress, is being made to 
feel homelessness. Austria's walls have fallen in and now the 
wind blows over her as over the scene of a conflagration, and all 
her things lie there exposed, laid bare, and have that improbable 
disproportioned look that household goods take on when they 
land in the open! Even I, though I have never really made the 
most of being an Austrian subject, feel this shelterlessness with 
singular intensity and the Whither? stands before me with so large 
a "W" (Woe) and so gigantic a questionmark that it is not for a 
moment to be overlooked. A little cowardly, I have, as you see, 
not yet dared trust myself back across the frontier, although 
Switzerland is not without restrictions and since those summer 
weeks in the old house at Soglio I have not found any other place 
that was protective and beneficial for me. But then I am uncom- 
monly demanding. It grows always clearer to me 'what I would 
need in order to conquer the tremendous, cruel interruption in 

me and really to hold my future work so closely to those pain- 
ful, broken surfaces of 1914 that it would heal on there: this 
would need at least six months of the most protected solitude, 
congenial conditions of the most equable and healthy sort in a 
word, extraordinarily much. And no people all that time, not 
one, not out of defensiveness and shyness of people, but just 
simply so that my inner reflection might be complete, without 
break or tear , only work, every day, and the influence of 
Nature and, as in Soglio, a few old things in my immediate sur- 
rounding which can replace all intercourse through their ample 
knowledge of that sorrow and joy that are just simply human, 
without really being personal. For that I long and for that I am 
waiting as one well, as one waits for a miracle. So many little 
country churches, quite deserted on weekdays, lie here among 
the hill-vineyards, rural settlements in which a Saint George or 
Laurence lives carefree on the capital of the being-believed-in 
which the piety of so many generations has accumulated for him; 
I sit in one, now here, now there, and sometimes the tears come 
into my eyes for sheer joy over the pure serene silence in these 
churches; such silence, it seems to me, I must be allowed to have 
around me for a year, to become aware of myself again and of that 
little spring of renewal in the middle of me which is the secret 
of every life and which was for so long drowned out and cloudy. 
In what region will you be newly settling? Munich is not at 
all congenial to me, and moreover I now hold it against the place 
that I was there in the war, as the convalescent loathes the room 
that is associated with a long illness. . . . 

C '371 
To Leopold von Schlozer Pension Villa Muralto, 

Locarno (Tessin) 
January 21, 1920 

. . . these linkings-up-again on all sides Switzerland has 
granted me many, also some really remarkable connections with 
Capri and Rome days are so far the only symptoms of the 


healing I so badly needed. For me, so far as myself is concerned, 
nothing remains but to hold myself so long and so closely to my 
sudden anguished ruptures of 1914 that I heal to them; in those 
days I began (from 1912 on) my big, perhaps biggest and most 
decisive works; the war reduced the sheltered place where I be- 
gan them to a heap of ruins over countless soldiers' graves: the 
old castle of Duino (near Trieste) where I could do such grand 
days and nights of work. All that is gone, and with it Paris, to me 
so indispensable and yet I do not want to, I cannot give it up, 
nothing, none of it. Within the last five years there has not been 
a single point I can hold on at, not one, the precipice has been 
so steep for me that I cannot root at its edge; also there is over it 
neither air nor Nature nor sky, nothing but a dense mist of 
doom. . . . During almost all the war years I was, par hasard 
plutot, waiting in Munich, always thinking it must come to an 
end, not understanding, not understanding, not understanding! 
Not to understand: yes, that was my entire occupation in these 
years, I can assure you it was not simple! For me the open world 
was the only possible one, I knew no other: what did I not owe 
Russia it made me what I am, from there the inner me went 
forth, all my instinct's homeland, all my inner origin is there! 
What do I not owe Paris, and will never cease to be grateful to it 
for. And the other countries! I can, I could take nothing back, not 
an instant, in no direction reject or hate or despise. The excep- 
tionalness of the general situation has dictated to all an exception- 
less attitude: no one nation may be particularly considered to have 
gone beyond the bounds, for this rashness has its basis in the 
helpless lostness of all. Who is helping? On all sides only exploiters 
of the turbid, nowhere a helper, nowhere a leader, nowhere a 
great superior individual. There may indeed have been such 
periods before, full of destructions, but were they equally form- 
less? With no figure to draw all this around itself and expand it 
away from itself this way tensions and counter-tensions are set 
up without a central point that first makes them into constellations, 
into orders, at least orders of destruction. My part in all this is 

only suffering. Suffering with and suffering beforehand and suf- 
fering after. Soon I won't be able to stand it any more. Please, do 
not believe the preacher about the "bestiality" of the French in 
the Rhine-provinces we must stop making anyone out bad it 
is the confusion that now here, now there, creates excesses and 
turbulences, it is no one's fault. C'est le monde qui est malade, et le 
reste c'est de la souff ranee! Since June I have been in Switzerland 
now here, now there, without a place. Shall wait another two 
months on Swiss soil, then back but whither? Even though I 
never made the most of being an Austrian subject, still I am now 
aware of the homelessness of the Austrian. I have done no work. 
My heart had stopped like a clock, the pendulum had somewhere 
bumped against the hand of misery and stood still. . . . 

n 13*1 

To Dory von der Miihll [Guthaus Schonenberg bei Pratteln 

in Basel-Land] 
Easter Sunday [April 4] 1920 

... I am struggling daily with all sorts of distress and chiefly 
with the influences of a quite unbearable fatigue; and I haven't 
even got so far as to find out to what extent the fatal effect of this 
condition has its root in the body or whether it just overpowers 
the body as it were out of an exhausted spirit. I know myself well 
enough to know that indispositions of this sort take their time, 
and much as one's will may work against them, it is in the end 
through checks on patience that they are best paid off. 

It really is perfectly wonderful that in these weeks no one 
is demanding anything special of me; the living room and its long 
even days give me all freedom for that seemingly unimportant 
activity that withdraws itself into one's inmost recesses. To judge 
by the pleasure I take in reading, I still think something must be 
stirring in me under so much laziness; for the moment, reading 
takes the place of almost all exercise and when it begins to tire 
me, the view from my window does more than the needful. . . . 


The Sunday choral below also has set in, as it was bound to; how 
much it already belongs for me to the mood and quite particu- 
larly to the stillness of Sundays here. 

Since we have a real postman a great deal of correspondence 
has come for me again, alas, none of it answered yet, every out- 
ward gesture costs me so much effort now. . . . 

C '39 1 

To Countess At. Palazzo Valmarana a San Vio, Venice 

June 25, 1920 

. . . This charm of the Venetian mezzanini: nowhere can low 
rooms be so large, so spacious, so harmonious in their proportions 
(for all spaciousness, as in life also the inner is in the last an- 
alysis a question of proportion) , as though out of abundance they 
had imposed upon themselves the limitation of being low. And the 
Princess, who has since childhood continued to belong to Ven- 
ice, has decorated this pied-a-terre with special sympathy and feel- 
ing. I myself in 1913, at the time of my long stay here, had con- 
tributed a few little things, as occasion chanced, a few pieces of 
glass, a little Italian library in uniform dix-huitieme bindings, even 
the desk at which I am writing you. It was like a dream to touch 
these forgotten things again; I noticed then how great my inner 
renunciation in general had been: I had to take back, to recall 
a gesture of renunciation in myself, in order to admit again the 
existence of these things. Strange, it is all as it was, and as I sit 
here I could without more ado come to terms with my surround- 
ings, with the noises and with the air itself, upon the date being 
1914; even the Countess Valmarana upstairs (who at once re- 
ceived me naturally in continuation of the old friendship) in- 
voluntarily speaks of Pannee passee every time she thinks of my 
last stay in the mezzanino. So if I hoped to find everything un- 
changed this wish has, I must admit, been fulfilled with that pre- 
cision with which the fairies sometimes astonish mortals, in that 
they fulfill more than was humanly foreseeable. In fairy tales the 
wish is always something hasty, rash so was mine: for I did not 


suppose that I would find myself too so entirely unchanged toward 
all these things. My life, stopped and disconnected deep inside by 
conditions, must have undergone a real petrification (I wanted it 
that way, it was my only means of surviving the general, invasive 
disfigurement!), but now it is indeed hard to be seven years fur- 
ther along, older, more worn, without those proofs of consecu- 
tive inner transformations that in the last analysis constitute being 
alive. Perhaps I am mistaken about the degree to which I have 
stayed the same and yet I am different somehow, it remains to 
be seen how. Since I have been alone here now I live always on 
the verge of repetition, everything does finally manage to make 
itself present, but coupled with too close a cousinage with the old 
days! In spite of this, how happy I am to have broken out of 
Switzerland, which, more and more, I really can take only for a 
waiting-room on the four walls of which a few Swiss views have 
been hung up. . . . 

This letter, dear Countess, was left intentionally, I wanted to 
go on writing a little more, but now for three days we have been 
provided with so dissolving a heat that I shall not get far; I notice 
that I feel the enervation arising from it more strongly than years 
ago; a sea bath on the Lido would be the right thing, but the 
vaporetti have been striking for a week, one would be grateful to 
them for their absence if only the gondolas had not at the same 
time become prohibitive. Most Venetian families, my housemates 
the Valmaranas as well, have given up theirs; and so all excursions 
that cannot be made right within the calli are rendered extraordi- 
narily difficult. I would have had yet another destination, the 
garden of old Mrs. Eaden over there on the Giudecca, the last 
survivor of the once so charming Giudecca Gardens: high trees, 
only a few at the border, but a garden interieur of grapevine walks, 
little stone-framed pools, turf parterres, pomegranate bushes on 
which the blossoms blaze up, and in the fluctuation of the vine- 
leaves' shifting shadow the towering mallow stalks; hedges and 
an old wall in whose niches stand weather-beaten stone figures, 
conclude this serenity that delights in itself, and beyond them 


there lies stretched before the whole toward the lagoon, a simple 
strip of lawn, which one feels, stepping out through one of the 
little gates, to be singularly empty and serious, already belonging 
more to the ocean than to the garden, leaving room for the ocean- 
space that sweeps in over the simple brick parapet, renewing itself 
perpetually out of the infinite. I have always admired the great 
tact, which the dix-huitieme still is, and which saw to it that the 
joyous turbulence of the garden was not shoved forward right to 
the waters of the fore-ocean; nothing is more impressive than this 
strip of inter-world, as if in it one were supposed to disaccustom 
oneself to multiplicity and prepare for an Eternal that is simple. 
How Duse, who always loved this garden very much, must 
have recognized herself when, from its filledness in which one is 
hidden and beguiled away, she strode out a thousand times into 
the open where one is all at once isolated, solitary on a meadow 
strip, forsaken : sheer figure! At certain moments of the year this 
fore-land, which has no path, only greensward so that one's step 
always remains soundless, can be like a beach for those who have 
said farewell never have I seen the feeling of farewell so utterly 
transposed into phenomena of space , now, in the growing sum- 
mer, a kind of alleviation enters even there, the lagoon dazzles and 
involuntarily one turns back toward the garden and remains in 
the consciousness of its uninterrupted happiness. The beautiful 
old trees of the background build up into the translucent sky and 
above them, pale in pink and gray, wall and cupola of the Reden- 
tore! I know, dear Countess, that that is no description; just 
like a face, a look, a soul, the Giardino Eaden can only be ex- 
perienced, not told , indeed isn't that really so of all Venice, one 
takes in here not as with vessels and hands, but as with mirrors, 
one "grasps" nothing, one is only drawn into the intimacy of its 
evanescence. Filled with pictures all day, one could bring forth 
proof for no single one of them, Venice must be "believed"; when 
I first saw it, in 1897, it was as the guest of an American! So it 
wasn't there at all, and for some reality nevertheless to come into 
this nothing, a very potent poisonous fly stung me, so that I had 
to orient myself to some extent round about its sting! 

1 shall not stay much longer this time, am indeed considering 
whether I should not go in three or four days. As in Switzerland, 
here too I am merely hiding from the decision, which I am the 
more obliged to make as on the Schonenberg, since my hosts have 
moved out there, I shall not find any working atmosphere. 
Whither?! . . . 

C *4 3 

To Anton Kippenberg Palazzo Valmarana a San Vio, Venice 

July i, 1920 

. . . Dear friend, I seem to be very much divided: I long so to 
be out in the world, among the images 1 was accustomed to re- 
ceive from it, in foreign-speaking regions where no one knows 
me and where language, my own language, again flashes out in 
steady relief as the material of my work. On the other hand, the 
waiting-time quality of my Swiss sojourn has grown ever clearer 
to me, and I see that from this spring-board I shall for the present 
get no further into the open, but must go "back" , if only the 
objective were more definite and more natural, I should not have 
let myself in for so many delays. Incidentally it has not even been 
possible to return to Munich : news did not reach me until I got 
here that the energetic influence of a friend . . . has obtained 
a residence permit for me. But meanwhile I have sublet my apart- 
ment, so I can only use it as an accommodation; nor would I like 
anything better than to leave a place which for me will long re- 
main part of the conditions of the war years, which was never 
really of use to me, and which at the end also provided plenty of 
other causes for dislike. 

I do not quite see myself actually taking refuge at the Fiirsten- 
bergs'; the thought of being under obligation to new and entirely 
unknown people rather oppresses me, just as I shall always fear 
every expenditure of energy that must be wasted in adjusting 
myself to something not precisely suitable. But the place I would 
need in strict accord with my conscience, not out of fastidious- 
ness is it to be found in the present crowded Germany? . . . 


To Princess Marie von Thurn 

und Taxis-Hohenlohe Schonenberg bei Pratteln, Basel-Land 

July 23, 1920 

. . . Oddly enough this time, my stay in Venice began with a 
high point our meeting again, which I found so extraordinarily 
good and was so completely grateful for from day to day, but 
after your departure, after I had to experience and to connect 
up with only my own life there, every variation was lacking, not 
a trace of more or less, a complete uniformity, like the warmth 
itself of all those weeks in which there was scarcely a fluctuation; 
and no finish to it because all proportion was lacking like an al- 
ways even ribbon running through one's senses . . . Only for 
this reason was it so hard to go away, for this singular continuity, 
somnolent as it was, and yet not without invitation to dreaming, 
could be given up at any point and still did not have to be. It was 
one of those external conditions that merge without delimitation 
into a state of mind which they only attract rather than produce, 
perhaps I went too far in supposing this even flow must finally 
diminish or increase, and a moment must come that would intro- 
duce a before and after into something so undifferentiable. 
Nothing of the sort. Only later, when sometime it will be possible 
to take account of one's reflections, shall I be able to see 'what this 
time in Venice after your departure could really have been. As. 
yet I only observe that life cannot be joined on to the broken 
surfaces of pre-war days in the way I had thought , after all 
everything is changed, and the sort of traveling for "pleasure'', 
to be taken simply and always rather leisurely in short traveling 
of the "cultured" traveler will once and for all have run its 
course. It will "go empty" in future, which of course will not 
prevent many from continuing it without taking account of the 
desuetude of their undertaking. I believe that all aesthetic observa- 
tion that is not immediate accomplishment will be impossible from 
now on, basically impossible, for example, to "admire pictures" 
in a church, or not unless, open through sorrow or exaltation, one 


is again swept away before this one or frightened and blessed by 
that. You would not believe at all, Princess, how different, how 
different the world is become, the point is to understand that. 
Whoever thinks he can live from now on as he was "accustomed" 
to live, will find himself continually facing the sheerest repe- 
tition, the bare once-again and its whole desperate unf ruitf ulness. 
The biography of Dostoievski, written by his daughter and 
translated into German from the French manuscript, was awaiting 
me here. I will have the book sent you tomorrow. . . . Even in 
the short introduction, Mile. Dostoievskaia, living on among her 
father's Slavophile associations, gives what would be the most 
wonderful and forward-looking interpretation of conditions in 
Russia today: the Russian muzhik, the inexhaustibly surviving 
and constructive element of Russia, is, in her belief, already at 
work, is creating big and deep contacts toward the East and is 
using Bolshevism only "as a scarecrow" to keep off the Western- 
ers and their dogmatic and disturbing interference. Even if it 
does not yet look so today, I am sure Liubov Dostoievski is only 
telling ahead of time, through her father's eyes, what is bound 
sooner or later to have its turn, else the whole world must stand 
still. Among its next movements, however, this will be the grand- 
est and the most just. . . . 

To Oswald von Kutschera Zurich, en route 

August 3, evening [1920] 
(Address. Schonenberg bei Pratteln, Basel-Land) 

... I communicated with no one [from Venice]. So in- 
credible did the ground seem to me on which I was living, that 
I feared it might vanish from under me as soon as I should mention 
its name, and so little was accomplished with the mere being 
there. Paris, the last and actual breaking-point before the turbu- 
lent years, I might perhaps, if I could get there, really fasten and 
grow on to: Venice was not an altogether natural spot in the body 
of my old life, and every time I wanted to test and experience the 


continuation of what had been earlier, it turned out something 
else by a hair's breadth: mere repetition, intentional and in itself 
unfruitful. That is, I didn't really experience it, but was always 
passing very close to it and only the finding of one's friends un- 
changed, well-wishing and affectionate all over again, prevented 
the entering in of the iteration that constantly threatened out of 
things and situations. Perhaps one had also lost much of one's 
readiness and alacrity in meeting with lively and spontaneous 
comprehension what offered itself at times. One is so slow in con- 
fiding and the new has made itself in every way so questionable 
to us that we almost prefer recognition of something earlier to 
being surprised, though such recognition, where instant readiness 
fails it, is petrified and then simply enters into our consciousness 
after a slight hesitation merely as repetition. 

How difficult anyway to find oneself to rights again! 

I see ... that your illness still gives you a good many trouble- 
some days and keeps you from activity and work you want to 
do, which puts your patience to a long test. But, my dear boy, 
I say to myself at the same time, hasn't it its good side, since it has 
to be, the spending of this particular period in a certain discon- 
nectedness; wherever you might now be taking an active part, 
you would weary of the helplessness and groundlessness gaping 
under every province , all the many letters I get give forth a 
unanimous lament, because for all intellectually striving persons, 
the foundation is lacking, the confidence in their being protected 
and necessary and therewith also the final conclusive desire to con- 
sider themselves necessary. . . . Surely a world so sore and every- 
where uneasy can give the independently working individual no 
guarantees; it makes him dependent without for that reason being 
able to define the degree and the nature of this dependence. . . . 


To Helen e Burckhardt-Schatzwaim Geneva, August 16, 1920 

. . . today for the first time I have got around to linking up 

with our afternoon before the "Peintres Genevois": I have come 


from the museum, and had the pleasure of confirming the at 
least pictorial genuineness of the Liotard beard ... at all events 
"la barbe de Liotard" could remain a by-word for something in 
which, despite all greatness and evidence, one still cannot quite 
believe. For the rest, I was already in the museum Friday, but did 
not get to the pictures, detained below in the Salle Amelie Piot 
and the Salle Louis Ormond by something of outstanding and ir- 
resistible concern to me: by the rich lace collections, which gave 
me the loveliest surprises and in which a few pieces one just has 
to say it that way really moved me. What a miracle of devotion! 
When I then, at the very end in a vitrine of the Ormond Room, 
discovered antique ornaments as well (necklaces of the fifth cen- 
tury B.C., of Greek origin) and beside them a few extraordinarily 
beautiful pieces of eighteenth-century Lucern gold-work, then 
every prospect of reaching the upper floors was over. Laces and 
ornaments, just because they are mostly treated merely as decora- 
tive achievements, always hold me in a special way , I am lured 
into discovering in them the work of art per se, that is, the com- 
plete transformation and enchantment of their producer consum- 
mated and transfigured in the work. Why shouldn't one regard 
laces in this way, which have always been a life in themselves, a 
renunciation and in exchange for just that joy and permanence 
and exhaustlessness. And old jewelry in particular too can be thus 
conceived, it is not merely a decorative shaping, it is a translation 
of what one's own existence could be into the life of stones and of 
gold: from then on it is a matter of their pride, their strength, 
their lavishness no longer of the peculiarities and fortunes of the 
craftsman who understands them. Even today I began with the 
lower rooms and was in danger of forgetting myself there; also 
of what the gallery provides I looked up only those things for 
which I was a little prepared by that afternoon, the pictures of 
Agasse, Liotard and Saint-Ours (of the last do you remember 
a delicate little picture portraying Simone Simard? ) 

22 4 

C *44 3 

T0 Princess Marie von Thurn 
und Taxis-Hohenlohe Geneva, August 19, 1920 

Regular address still: 
Schonenberg bei Pratteln, (Basel-Land) 

I am enormously reckless in Geneva a fortnight and cannot 
tear myself away. Four four days I had allowed myself for 
leavetaking, but there is always an excuse for yielding, and al- 
ways a tendency on my part to give in. It is not Geneva alone, it 
is everything here that recalls Paris and almost makes it real: the 
playing gray light in which bright clothes and the planes of a 
face take on the same sweet haziness that makes many a time of 
year in Paris so fatally attractive. This must actually be true, 
Geneva was so lovely, the open lake with the lateen sails, the 
quays and along the shores the great Genevan "campagnes" with 
their magnificent trees. I don't quite know why, I feel I ought to 
be so indescribably open to it all, as though it were to be the last 
for a long time; for the return seems to me, God help me, a 
somber picture, much as I try to save out the little house and 
Lautschin in general from the rest of the dismal background. . . . 
It is a tour de force for God to keep his hand so long over my 
little house, surely he has already let it go and some worthy man 
is living in it with whom I cannot stand comparison. I am pre- 
pared to have trifled away this lovely prospect, and, j'en conviens, 
I deserve nothing else. What does Kassner say to my not com- 
ing? ... 

I see Pitoieff almost every day. You know, the Russian who 
has set up the wonderful theater here, whose experiment and 
success I am so keen about. For the first time I recognize the 
"work" of the actor as exactly as central, independent and big as, 
in another realm of art, Rodin's work was in its magnificence and 
utter independence; and one always experiences the same happi- 
ness in seeing how an ability thoroughly realized at one point takes 
the whole world in an unexpected manner into its possession and 
from that center out renders it inexhaustible. Yesterday we went 

through a very fine play, and one ought to see Pitoieff with 
what vision he penetrates an author's scenery and words: he 
emphasizes something, and suddenly the imaginary bench from 
which he has just risen, the wall from which he moves away, 
simply leap from his eyes. That is theater, I have never known 
anything like it. If I could arrange it I would work near Pitoieff 
for a year, attend all his rehearsals , genius is after all the only 
thing that really grips us and matters to us; how much one is ready 
to forgive the world if only at some one spot a single unswerving 
determination of this sort is happily at work. By and large, in 
the outside world the bungling of recent years continues , I hope 
you are not too much aware of it. The children will have come 
home meanwhile . . . and everything will surely go well ac- 
cording to program only my numbers have had to be canceled 
until further notice. All the more do I want news, Princess, please 
news, so that at least in spirit and endeavor I can count myself 
included. . . . 

To Hans von der Milhll Geneva 

October 12, 1920 

You will hardly, I imagine, have recovered from the astonish- 
ment you may have felt at my notification (for it really couldn't 
be called a letter) concerning the sudden prospect of Paris (a 
sort of key-hole prospect for the present, like that through the 
door-lock of the Villa de Make in Rome of the cupola of St. 
Peter's), before another of my surprises came to hand: that tele- 
gram from Sierre. How beautiful this Valais really is. The impres- 
sions of Sion and Sierre have at one stroke made my Swiss recol- 
lections, already so various, more complete by much, as always 
happens whenever I get to the Rhone : its banks smile at me 
with a wonderful friendliness as though this stream more than 
any other had the power to make its own the lands that it re- 
freshes: Vaucluse, Avignon, the lie de Bartelasse and this un- 
canny Jonction here: all of them are related by marriage and 


akin through the spirit of this river and now at last, in the 
generous valleys of the Valais, what room it has to spread out and 
be itself in every curve. I have seen not one among the beautiful 
valleys of Switzerland that was more spacious: the Valais is a plain 
a long way from the mountains; and these are themselves no more 
than a background, conveying no effect of weight and with 
slopes so hazy that at times they seem imaginary, like the moun- 
tains pictured in a reflection. And most spacious in perspective 
too are the gradations of the hills in the foreground with the 
accent and inflection of their progressively upward-climbing vil- 
lages. . . . Sion was surprising in every way: we had the right 
day for it and I understood from step to step this choice of Hof- 
mannsthal's, and how in the great picture book of Switzerland 
he likes to turn up this page above all others. 

... I will be with you Saturday at the latest . . . though this 
time, to be sure, only until the moment I am permitted to leave 
the country, and this, so as not to be in Paris too late, I shall do 
everything I can to hasten: for this your support and Frau von 
der MiihlPs will be much in demand, who knows how much. 
Will it be possible for me to board the Paris train early next week! ? 

To Countess M. Hotel Foyot, rue de Tournon, Paris 

October 27, 1920 

You will not, I believe, be nearly astonished enough, my dear 
Countess, when you read this address ? You have always be- 
lieved me capable of progress of this sort, the most extensive! But 
just look, just look!: what shall I say, everything is absolutely, 
absolutely all right; for the first time since the dreadful years I 
am feeling the continuity of my existence again, which I had been 
ready to renounce; for even Switzerland only prolonged the in- 
terruptions (more mildly, more pleasantly, under cover, if you 
will ), but here, here: la meme plenitude de vie, le meme inten- 
site, la meme justesse meme dans le mal : by and large everything 

has remained independent of political stewings and doings and is 
pressing, stirring, glowing, shimmering: October days: you know 

I fit at all the broken spots, yes, and now I hardly feel it any 
more. If I could remain here, I should have my life tomorrow, all 
its dangers, all its blessings: my entire life: ma vie, depuis tou- 

jours mienne But, the exchange prevents that: it will have 

been only four or five days, but even so it is right with me and 
I like it: I now know again, my consciousness has given over its 
constraints, the standing-still-in-one-spot has stopped, I am again 
revolving in my consciousness. One hour here, the first, would 
have sufficed for that. And after all I have had hundreds, days, 
nights and every step was an arrival. . . . 

In haste: for outside is the Luxembourg, shimmering: so how 
can I hold out any longer at my desk? . . . 

C /473 

To Princess Marie von Thurn 

und Taxis-Hohenlohe Schloss Berg am Irchel, 

Canton Zurich (Switzerland) 
November 19, 1920 

De grace: if I am not yet entirely lost to you (I slip through 
fingers like . . . "desert sand") and you have not yet thoroughly 
denounced me for failing to come, then lose yourself awhile in 
this little picture: even if I don't really deserve it. For now the 
dice, which pointed with all their spots toward you, have been 
picked up once more and thrown anew and the result, I am con- 
tinuing to stay in hospitable Switzerland and, as you can almost 
see by this [card], Schloss Berg on the Irchel ... is to be my 
abode for the next months, perhaps for the winter. Under con- 
ditions somewhat resembling those in Duino: that was what set- 
tled it for me. I live alone in the solid, centuries-old stone house, 
alone with a housekeeper who cares for me as silently as I silently 
let myself be cared for; a deserted park opening on the quiet land- 


scape, no railway station in the neighborhood and for the present, 
furthermore, a lot of roads closed on account of foot-and-mouth 
disease done, retraite absolue. 

It happened so suddenly, without my doing the least thing about 
it, simply offered itself, I could not resist. More particularly as 
the choice was put to me at a remarkable moment. I came you 
will not guess from where dear Princess I came from Paris, 
where I had just as unexpectedly spent six days, indescribable 
autumn days, glorious ones, and it was ... to an extent that 
far exceeded all expectation my Paris, the Paris of former days 
I would like to say: the eternal Paris. Anyone now visiting chiefly 
the rive droite, dependent on personal connections and altogether 
on society and conversation, would certainly have to admit many 
sad and disfiguring changes. But I have the singular good fortune 
to live through things, and so far as any influence came to me 
from them and from the intensive air, it was the old, indescribable 
one, the same to which almost twenty years ago I owed my best 
and most resolute frame of mind. I cannot say (but you will 
guess! ) with what emotion I enjoyed these contacts, how I held 
myself against a hundred intimate broken surfaces, the healing 
on to which remained but a matter of self-abandonment. And 
that, believe me! I did not lack. Only now have I the hope again 
of carrying on, really continuing my work, and I came back 
with a real impatience for it , then Schloss Berg offered itself. 
And instead of handing myself over and delivering myself up to 
a long journey, to the tasks that would have awaited me in 
Munich, and so and so many unforeseen things that I would have 
had to attend to before Lautschin, I drove blindly from Geneva 
hither and closed my old oaken doors. Now I have been here a 
week, and the experiment speaks for my staying on. Dear Prin- 
cess: absolution. More: your blessing on it! . . . 


To R.S. y 'who in sending in manuscripts, called special attention to 
his having gone blind. Schloss Berg am Irchel, 

Canton Zurich, Switzerland 
November 22, 1920 

Your letter of October 1 6th went a long way round to reach 
me; so my delay is not quite so great as it might seem. 

Now as to my answer, it is more concerned with your letter 
than with the work you enclosed. My conscience does not allow 
me to express "judgment", since I know how much I lack the 
movable yardsticks for appraising the more or less in artistic 
endeavors; I have no link with the manifestations of art other than 
that of admiration, and so I am in every way made, while I live, to 
be pupil to the greatest and their acknowledger, rather than find- 
ing myself able to act as adviser to those who have not yet truly 
found their way into the essential nature of their tasks. For these 
I may only wish that they hold joyfully to the road of longest 
learning, until there comes to them that deep and hidden self- 
assuredness which without their having to ask anyone about 
it pure necessity, that is, irrepressibility and thoroughness 
of their work secures to them. To hold our innermost conscience 
alert, which with every fully formed experience tells us whether 
it is thus, as it now stands, altogether to be answered for in its 
truthfulness and integrity: that is the foundation of every artistic 
production, which ought to be laid even there where an inspira- 
tion kept in suspense can, so to speak, do without the ground. 

Great decisive misfortune, such as has been your lot, is singu- 
larly enticing to those winged inspirations that like to settle down 
wherever a privation has become greater than any possession we 
can imagine. You could not help simply setting this consummate 
misfortune, when you noticed how attractive it is to the in- 
visible and spiritual, in the center of your rearranged conscious- 
ness; it remains, rightly, the unshiftable point from which all dis- 
tances and movements of your experience and your mind are to 
be measured. But now that this arrangement has once been hit 

upon, your quiet practice should be directed toward enduring this 
central misfortune more and more without any special name, and 
this would manifest itself in your artistic efforts somewhat in this 
way: that nowhere any more would it be possible to recognize 
in them 'what limitless restriction is the occasion for your laying 
claim in the earnest entreaty of your work to limitless compensa- 
tion. Art can proceed only from a purely anonymous center. 
But for your life too (whatever else it may be destined to bring 
forth) this endeavor seems to me decisive; it would be the real 
kernel of your resignation. While you bore your misfortune as a 
nameless and then at last unnamable suffering, you would be pre- 
paring for it the freedom of being at certain moments not mis- 
fortune alone but: dispensation ( who can see that far ) : priv- 
ilege. Unequivocal destinies of that sort have their god and are 
thereby forever distinguished from those variously complicative 
fates whose privations are not deep enough and not closely enough 
joined to serve as negative mold for the casting of such a greatly 
responsible form. 

C 149 3 

To Countess M. Schloss Berg am Irchel, 

Canton Zurich, Switzerland 
November 25, 1920 

. . . How has this come about? It has come about by a mira- 
cle. There's no other way of accounting for it. How shall I 
hasten to impart to you the incomprehensible thing that has be- 
fallen me? Imagine, the same privilege that allowed me to go 
to Paris has, so to speak, had a second act in that, at the moment 
of my return, the remote little old Schlosschen Berg was offered 
me (to me, all alone! ) as an abode for the winter. You can see it 
fairly well on the enclosed card: a solid old house of hewn stone, 
dating back in its last form to the seventeenth century, with a 
set-back gable roof seen from the side, in the front a somewhat 
neglected park, in which high trimmed beech alleys mark out 
right and left the unbordered piece d'eau, in the center of which, 
day and night, like a playing tree (un arbre de luxe) the fountain- 

figure stands slim. (And this, with its continually modulated 
cascade, is indeed the measure of all sounds, seldom can anything 
be heard above it! ) Looking in the direction opposite from that 
given by the card, out of one of the windows (mine are those 
on the ground floor) into the garden, one sees it in the back- 
ground, beyond the wide-set alley of old chestnuts, running on 
into the landscape, into meadows which, in gentlest ascent, reach 
up to the foot of the Irchel, that wooded hill which gives way, as 
it were, closing the picture without perceptibly shutting it in. 
My rooms are fine, large, full of sympathetic old things big tile 
stoves, in addition to the fireplace, provide the heating and 
whenever the sun is out it shines radiantly in at all my windows. 
A quiet sensible housekeeper looks after me, exactly as I need 
to be looked after, and doesn't seem to show any particular sur- 
prise at my being silent and reserved (for so I must be in order 

to get at work!) I've been telling a fairy tale, have I not? 

Well, what do you say to my being the center of that tale, un- 
expectedly? Am I really happy? No, my heart beats with worry 
over whether I shall be able to wrest from these conditions, to the 
last degree favorable and congenial, that which they now at last 
really allow and which I (after all the distractions and disturb- 
ances of the last years) must urgently, unrelentingly expect of 
myself. Now there's no excuse! Shall I be able to do it? Shall I 
be strong, clean, fruitful, productive?: the having seen Paris 
again, which was so healing, obliges me to be, and here this ob- 
ligation is now really so clearly and unambiguously set up round 
about me , if I fail this time, here, at Schloss Berg then there 
is no help for me. The first thing a stranger walking in here 
would say is: How one must be able to work here! Shall I be 
able to do it? My fear (my cowardice, if you want to call it that) 
is just as great as my joy, but that joy is really immense. 

From a place like this ... I can measure doubly well how 
sad it must be for you to give up your Carinthian estate: it is true, 
an indescribable amount of life goes into a piece of permanent 
property one has built up, and this cannot be pulled out when one 
gets into the position of giving the place away. Here the Escher 

portraits, such as have remained in the chateau, still predominate 
over everything that the Zieglers, despite four children grown up 
here, have been able to impose upon the surroundings! 

The mourning border on your letter I explained to myself at 
once, even before I read it , in the sense of that great near loss 
that had unfortunately lain not outside the realm of a certain ex- 
pectation. It is true, one must, particularly under the present bot- 
tomless conditions, muster a sort of reconciliation with the going 
of those who would not have been able to endure such great 
changes without continual amazement and suffering. I myself 
could scarcely get possession of myself or get at my work if I had 
to notice too much of the helplessnesses that everywhere don't 
want to admit they are that, but in the form of false certainties, 
would like to overpower the world. 

Had I wanted and been able to "profit" by the exchange in 
Switzerland I would perhaps have become strong enough to ac- 
quire your Carinthian estate I say that jokingly, of course but 
still with the thought in the back of my mind that perhaps the 
original home of the family, which I have never learned to know, 
would be the country where a comparatively homelike striking 
of roots (should I ever get to it) would come to me not unnatu- 

For the spring I am thinking of Paris anyway to continue 
the life there would seem to me the most perfectly straightfor- 
ward thing that could happen to me. But, in any case, as I remain 
dependent on Insel-Verlag as concerns my income, it is not ex- 
actly to be foreseen how the disastrous German exchange is to 
serve me in the realization of this plan. 

No I was not longer in Paris, six days. It was so perfect that 
duration played no role. My heart, my mind, my passionate re- 
membrance of what had there been achieved and fought for were 
so magnificently and surely satisfied in the very first hour, that 
when that was over I might have left without any real depriva- 
tion. I long ago accustomed myself to take given things accord- 
ing to their intensity, without, so far as that is humanly achievable, 
worrying about duration; that is perhaps the best and discreetest 

way of expecting everything from them even duration. If one 
begins with that demand, one spoils and falsifies every experience, 
indeed, one hinders it in its own inmost inventiveness and fruit- 
fulness. Something that is really not to be got by entreaty, can 
never be but an extra gift, and I was just thinking that often in 
life things seem to depend only on the longest patience! . . . 
That I ever should have grumbled! 


To Major-General von Sedlakoivitz Schloss Berg am Irchel, 

Canton Zurich, Switzerland 
December 9, 1920 

Your letter and its duplicate were forwarded to me by the 
Insel-Verlag as soon as I was again to be reached at a more per- 
manent address, after several months on the move. 

Had I acted on the feeling aroused by your remote recollec- 
tion, I must have thanked you at once , and you thought it a 
little strange too, as the repetition of your letter shows, not to get 
any answer from me. 

Meanwhile the emotion that agitated me was so complex that 
I had to let a few weeks pass, comprehending it, as it were, if my 
thanks were not to be superficial and, in a certain sense, em- 
barrassed, which would in no way have satisfied your sincere 
wish to renew acquaintance. 

A voice that appeals to those most distant years (it is the only 
such voice that ever sought to find me!) was bound at first you 
will pardon the directness of my expression to be incredible. I 
would not, I believe, have been able to realize my life that which 
I may now, without taking it in the whole, go ahead and call so 
had I not, for decades, denied and suppressed all recollection of 
those five years of my military training; what, indeed, have I 
not done for the sake of that suppression! There were times when 
the slightest influence out of that rejected past would have dis- 
integrated that new and fruitful consciousness of my own that 
I was struggling for , and when sometimes it inwardly obtruded 


itself, I had to lift myself out over it, as over something belonging 
to a most alien, a quite unrecognizable life. But later too, when 
I found myself more surrounded and protected in a life increas- 
ingly my own, that affliction of my childhood, long and violent 
and far beyond my age at the time, seemed incomprehensible to 
me , and I was able to understand its impenetrable fatality just 
as little as the miracle that finally perhaps at the last moment 
came to free me from the abyss of undeserved misery. 

If you, Sir, find exaggerated the embitterment without which 
even today still I cannot so much as enumerate those facts of my 
early life, I beg you to consider for a moment that when I left 
the military college, I stood as one exhausted, physically and spir- 
itually misused, retarded, at sixteen, before my life's enormous 
tasks, defrauded of the most spontaneous part of my energy and 
at the same time of that preparation, never again retrievable, which 
would have built me clean steps for an ascent that, weakened and 
damaged, I had now to begin before the steepest walls of my 

You hear me state all this and you will ask, how then was it 
conceivable to retrieve these indescribable things I had missed 
and head into the paths along which my original instincts could 
still drive me ahead, weary as I was: this question it probably was 
which made you doubt for so long my identity with the "pupil 
Rene Rilke". I cannot tell how such a thing could have happened 
either. Life is very singularly made to surprise us (where it does 
not utterly appall us) . Of course I looked around for help in those 
years of dismay; much as I remained apart for my contempo- 
raries were in a normal and incomparably clearer position and did 
not come into consideration as companions for me I was not 
spared the drawing of comparisons and the realizing ever anew 
what entirely different preliminaries I might have expected for 
my talent. That did not help me. But it is present to me even now, 
how, in my moroseness, I found a kind of help in those five evil 
and anxious years of my childhood having been so utterly cruel, 
without a single mitigation. 

Dear Sir, do not think me unjust: I imagine I have achieved a 

certain degree of fairness and I wish for nothing more than some 
day to be allowed to recognize even in the boundless suffering of 
those years those brighter spots in which because there was no 
longer any other way some kindness befell me as if by chance. 
For the workings of Nature penetrate far into the unnatural, and 
an attempt at striking a balance might occasionally take place even 
there. But how slight that was measured against the daily despair 
of a ten-, a twelve-, a fourteen-year-old boy. 

So for individual later moments of my youth I had to be 
granted the support of including that which happened so long 
ago in the feeling of one single terrible damnation, out of which I 
was cast up merely as out of a sea that is stirred to its depths with 
destructive intent and is not even concerned whether it leaves here 
and there upon its devastated shore a live thing or a dead. 

When in more reflective years (for how late I arrived at a state 
where I could read calmly, not just to make up for lost time, but 
purely receptively!) Dostoievski's Memoirs of a Death-house 
first came into my hands, it seemed to me that since my tenth 
year I had been admitted into all the terrors and despairs of the 
convict prison! Please take all the pathos out of this statement. It 
means to express nothing but a simple recognition of an inner 
state the external causes of which I will admit at once were 
different enough from the surroundings of Siberian convicts. But 
Dostoievski, when he endured the unendurable, was a young 
man, a grown man; to the mind of a child the prison walls of St. 
Polten could, if he used the measure of his helplessly abandoned 
heart, take on pretty much the same dimensions. 

Twenty years ago it was, I spent some time in Russia. An in- 
sight, prepared only in a very general way by the reading of 
Dostoievski's works, developed, in that country where I felt so 
at home, into a most penetrating clarity; it is hard to formulate. 
Something like this, perhaps: The Russian showed me in so many 
examples how even a servitude and affliction continually over- 
powering all forces of resistance need not necessarily bring about 
the destruction of the soul. There is here, at least for the Slavic 
soul, a degree of subjection that deserves to be called so consum- 

mate that, even under the most ponderous and burdensome op- 
pression, it provides the soul with something like a secret play- 
room, a fourth dimension of its existence, in which, however 
crushing conditions become, a new, endless and truly inde- 
pendent freedom begins for it. 

Was it presumptuous of me to imagine that I had, instinctively, 
achieved a similar complete submission and resignation in those 
earliest years, when that block of an impenetrable misery had been 
rolled over the tenderest first shoots of my nature? I had, it seems 
to me, some right (with an altered standard naturally) to assume 
something of the sort, since indeed of any other endurance of 
disproportionate, ovcr-lifesize wrong there is nowhere any indi- 

So I hope you realize that even a long time ago I undertook 
to enter upon a certain reconciliation with my older destinies. 
As they had not destroyed me they must at some time have been 
laid upon the scales of my life as additional weights , and the 
counterweights that were destined to bring the other side into 
balance could be made up only of the purest performance, to 
which, too, I found myself determined after those days of mine 
in Russia. 

If thus I no longer suppressed altogether the old days in military 
school, I still could admit them only in the large and in general, 
somewhere behind me. For an examination or even a reconstruc- 
tion of details my energies, otherwise busy in any case and work- 
ing toward the future, would never have sufficed. 

So that when you speak to me of some particular recollection, 
as happens in your letter, I should have difficulty in unexpectedly 
describing such memories, never having cultivated them. 

The irony you manifested for my writings must have been a 
highly justified and educational one, even that fragment from 
the later letter of 1892 (!) shows indeed how very right one 
would have been even then in strictly and severely trimming the 
ragged and crinkled edges of my expression! 

That you incidentally kept that letter among your papers and 
were even able to find it again, fills me, my dear teacher, with a 

peculiar emotion, which I may hide the less as nowhere in these 
brusque remarks have I yet thanked you for your new sympathetic 
communication. It is done at this point, believe me, without any 

Must I, in conclusion, reproach myself for having gone into so 
much detail and above all to such a length? Should I have taken 
the renewal of acquaintance in your kind letter more "uncon- 
cernedly"? No; I believe that for me there was only the choice, 
either to remain silent or really to let you take part in the emotion 
which the only voice that has ever come across to me from thence 
was bound to arouse in me. 

If you, Sir, can take this unusual answer in a sense as just as it 
is forbearing, then you will also feel that I cannot close in any 
other way than with the expression of sincere wishes for your 
welfare. How should I not see a special privilege in your re- 
membrance ever having afforded me the pleasure of expressing 

C '5' 3 

To Phia Rilke Schloss Berg am Irchel, Canton Zurich, Switzerland 

December 17, 1920 
My dear Mama, 

Once more at our blessed hour, most loving remembrance of 
Christmas days of longest ago, and the wish that now, after such 
bad times, there may be granted you celebrations each year more 
quiet, more peaceful, and finally too in a little home of your very 
own again! 

Now that this has been expressed, really everything has been 
expressed, for now it is a matter not of reading, but of going-into- 
oneselj and, in one's own heart, for the year's holiest hour of 
celebration, preparing the manger, so that therein, this hour, and 
in it the Savior, may with all fervor be born into the world again f 

What I wish for you, dear Mama, is that on this evening of 
consecration, the remembrance of all distress, even the conscious- 
ness of the immediate worry and insecurity of existence may be 


quite checked and in a sense dissolved in the innermost knowl- 
edge of that grace, for which indeed no time is too dense with 
calamity and no anxiety so sealed that in its own time which is 
not ours! it could not enter and penetrate what seems insur- 
mountable with its mild victory. There is no moment in the long 
year when one would be able to call so vividly into one's soul its 
ever possible appearance and then omnipresence, as this winter 
night, autonomous through the centuries, which, through the in- 
comparable coming of that child who transformed all creatures, 
all at once outweighed and surpassed in value the sum of all other 
earthly rights. Though the easy summer, when existence seems 
considerably more bearable and more effortless, when we do not 
have to guard ourselves against such direct antagonism from the 
air and from serenely absorbed Nature , though the happier 
summer may pamper us with consolations, what are they all be- 
side the immeasurable comfort-treasures of this outwardly un- 
assuming, even poor night that suddenly stands open toward the 
inside, like an all-embracing and warming heart, and which with 
beats of its own bell-toned center really does reply to our hearken- 
ing into the innermost cell. 

All annunciations of previous times did not suffice to herald 
this night, all hymns that have been sung in its praise did not come 
near the stillness and eagerness in which shepherds and kings knelt 
down , just as we too, none of us, has ever been able, while this 
miracle-night was befalling him, to indicate the measure of his 

It is so truly the mystery of the kneeling, of the deeply kneeling 
man: his being greater, by his spiritual nature, than he who stands! 
which is celebrated in this night. He who kneels, who gives him- 
self wholly to kneeling, loses indeed the measure of his surround- 
ings, even looking up he would no longer be able to say what is 
great and what is small. But although in his bent posture he has 
scarcely the height of a child, yet he, this kneeling man, is not to be 
called small. With him the scale is shifted, for in following the 
peculiar weight and strength in his knees and assuming the position 
jhat corresponds to them, he already belongs to that world in 

which height is depth, and if even height remains im- 
measurable to our gaze and our instruments: who could measure 
the depth? . . . 

But this is the night of radiant depth unfolded : for you, dear 
Mama, may it be hallowed and blessed. Amen. Rene 

To Carl Burckhardt Schloss Berg am Irchel, 

Canton Zurich, Switzerland 
December 21, 1920 

... It came to the point where my life at Berg I may safely 
refer to it by so inclusive a word, for right away it was of a peculiar 
validity and realization where this life at once took on the dimen- 
sions of work , whereby my letter-pen, so to say, fell under the 
supervision of its stricter sister dedicated to production and only 
now and then obtains a little freedom to let itself go for a few easy 

For the same reason because everything here was at once so 
conducive that from the second or third moment the most serious 
things became unpostponable and the deeper work of inward ab- 
sorption set in (for the true and uninterruptible taking up of 
which no house has been solid and remote enough for me during 
these last years) I did not go to Basel either, after all. To the 
friendly understanding of your sister and the ever active kindness 
of your mother I owe the sending over of my things; and with the 
arrival of these trunks, boxes and baskets my existence here has 
been complete; entirely shut off and remote as it was from the start, 
the sudden snowfall has as it were moved house and park still 
further off, and should even that not suffice, the regulations that 
have been issued on account of foot-and-mouth disease see to it that 
the strictly closed roads not only make any coming here to me, 
but also my going out, practically impossible. My inner confusion, 
into which so much disturbance had penetrated during the world- 
disasters, needs such a shutting-off for a while exaggerated, if 
you will to set itself in order; I must really be able to be sure that 


for a long time nothing save what may come from Nature or be 
engendered through incommensurable activities inside oneself 
that nothing comes up, if I am to get through at all with every- 
thing that fills my mind to overflowing; not because it would be 
too much, but because I would not have the strength to put it by 
in obedient and significant form. So I best sum up my present 
condition when I say that it answers to all my inclinations; what 
might somehow be disturbing about it would at most be this, that 
the wonderful congeniality of it lays upon me the extreme obliga- 
tion to produce; but as of course I want nothing but that this 
bringing to completion at last of interrupted and imperiled tasks 
, we will manage (so far as human strength suffices) to come to 
terms on this point too. 

What a blessing that I had those days in Paris beforehand! 
Without this connection with my earlier existence (with all my 
difficult years of learning), through which alone my full con- 
sciousness was once more set in order and, so to speak, the great 
cycle of my spiritual breathing was opened again, the retirement at 
Berg would not have been half so well prepared and provisioned. 
This time one good thing was added to another and indeed one 
would not have had enough with only one, after such long associa- 
tion with unkind, malicious, uncongenial and sad things! . . . 

You remember the forty drawings of my little (twelve-year- 
old) friend Balthasar Klossowski, whose destiny was decided one 
day, on the stroke of twelve, in the green room of the Ritterhof . 
The publisher is actually getting them into the bookstores toward 
spring. And I have begun my work here by sketching out the 
promised "Preface", which, just as it lies before me full of 
mistakes, I fear nevertheless pleases me because I wrote it down 
very rapidly, in one good session, and can assure you I did not 
translate it in an antechamber of my mind, but, franchement et 
heureusement, thought it in French. Despite that, this little per- 
sonal infatuation with an unexpectedly easy success would not 
justify my forcing this essay upon you (in a copy made for you) . 
Although these pages deal with "Mitsou" the tomcat and will be 
used as an introduction to the book of that name, yet I also see in 

_ 24* 

them (in reading you will understand why) since knowing of 
the death of my friend "Prince" a kind of little memorial I was 
unwittingly allowed to put up a few days before he ran into the 
guns of the guards in the Biningen preserve. I know how this 
closely attached friend, with his unrestrainable heart, sharing your 
thoughts and feelings, had a part in many of your recollections, 
and how much the news of his going must have moved you, 
as though one of those understandings were now taken away 
which, because they do not act "helpful" at all, are more helpful 
and thoroughgoing than the most give-and-take conversations; 
and into which life, always discreet, does after all, perhaps, trans- 
fer the purest compensations we are allowed to experience out- 
side ourselves. 

What a good companion Prince was to me, you know. Odd 
how he, who seemed to know that life and death are equally dif- 
ficult only so can I ever express what his sigh, that single one 
on that rainy night in May, seemed to impart to me was driven 
into an accessible death, at that singular parting of the ways be- 
yond which growing old would have set him against one of the 
two, made him unjust toward life and sullen toward death. 

So quite particularly in his, Prince's, honor, did I intend for 
you the little piece in the accompanying copy; accept it with the 
indulgence with which alone such an incidental thing should be 
taken, and yet also in that larger sense about which, I believe, 
we agree. . . . 

P.S. I am searching for HofmannsthaPs Beethoven lecture, hav- 
ing realized at once how very fine it must have been. 

To Inga Junghanns Schloss Berg am Irchel, 

Canton Zurich, Switzerland 
January 5, 1921 

. . . Yes, how curiously things do happen in life; were there 
not a bit of arrogance somewhere in it, one would indeed like 
very much to stand outside, confronting everything, that is, 

everything that occurs, so as surely not to lose anything ; one 
would then still remain fixed, perhaps for the first time really so, 
in the actual center of life, where everything comes together and 
has no name; but then again, the names have bewitched us the 
titles, the pretense of life because the whole is too infinite, and 
we recover by calling it for a while by the name of one love, 
much as it is just this impassioned restriction that puts us in the 
wrong, makes us guilty, kills us ... 

C '54 3 

To Joachim von Wintetfeldt-Menkin Schloss Berg am Irchel, 

Canton Zurich 
February 2, 1921 

... I did not know Seckendorff , and ... it is really not my 
custom to write about the plastic arts. Rodin's case is for me 
wholly unique. Rodin was, as I might say, my teacher; the ex- 
ample of his powerful work influenced me through many years 
of learning, and from the friendly association of so many occa- 
sions it was possible finally for a series of notes to precipitate out. 
Even in the next case, when a painter's work that of Cezanne 
had the greatest influence on me, I renounced any written state- 
ment of my experience, as nothing seems to me less reliable than 
literary analysis of painting or plastic production. The present 
condition of the arts on the one hand and on the other the 
uncommon agility and readiness of the word, obligate one to the 
greatest economy and caution in expression; even the most respon- 
sible writer is today more than ever in danger of exaggerating or 
at least of prematurely appraising works of art that in any way 
concern him, since it has not been possible to alter and adjust the 
divisions of the measuring-scale in such detail as would correspond 
to the modifications and variety in the flood of art production. 
My part toward all this is the modest one of keeping silent and 
this resolve of mine has for years been too much a matter of prin- 
ciple for me not to stick to it even if Seckendorff's works had 
been familiar and significant to me. . . . 

C 155 3 

2 43 

To Franclsca Stoecklm Schloss Berg am Irchel, 

Canton Zurich 
March 8, 1921 (Tuesday) 

I had taken your letter along yesterday on the post road to 
Flaach and was reading it again as I walked; as I finished and 
looked up, my glance involuntarily took in, on the right, in the 
garden before a farmhouse, a little creature some five years of age. 
The little girl, scarce looked-at, dropped everything and came 
hurrying toward me, over her slanting round shoulder an open 
umbrella (which because of its weight had slid so far back that 
it made a complete background for her little person), over to 
the road, her tiny right hand ready to offer, even from afar, open, 
so open that the palm was almost convex , and when it then 
actually succeeded, when the offer of this generous, eager, very 
earthy and dirty little hand had been, with quickly hid astonish- 
ment, accepted by me, the little girl experienced such deep con- 
tentment and her little face radiated so much fulfillment and joy 
that her whole expression no longer had any relation to the degree 
of giving that might have been ours at that moment. 

What was it? A mistake of the little person who took me for an 
acquaintance, perhaps for the vicar of Flaach? (for in general, 
friendly as children may be in greeting one orally, I have never 
yet seen one of them take upon itself the charges of such a wel- 
come) . Even if this elan was not meant for me, enough to make 
one happy was still left over, and this it bestowed on me notwith- 
standing. But now I have a better explanation for it (and for your 
sake I am telling you the sweet incident). My gaze, as it left your 
letter, must have been so friendly, so happy, so clarified with uni- 
versal friendship, that the world now suddenly facing it knew no 
other way to fill it out than with this pure spontaneous occurrence. 

This is my impartial little story. . . . 



To Countess M. Schloss Berg am Irchel, Canton Zurich, Switzerland 

March 10, 1921 

I wanted to write you long, long ago! Now almost two months 
have passed since the date of your letter , but I was living under 
such great pressure that any communication would have been as if 
distorted. I want to say right away that that did not happen to me 
of which you so perspicaciously warned me a forcing, an urging, 
impatient either-or toward work , no, not that. You wrote so 
comfortingly and trustingly: "Your work, your art comes when it 
will" yes, and it is that way , but then around New Year's, 
it was there, it was there , and at the same moment circumstances 
arose to meet me, urgent, difficult ones , that needed all of me 
and to which I had to concede the right on the spot to tear me 
forth and away from all that was just about to begin and for 
which circumstances here were incomparably favorable and pre- 
pared. A fatality: in effect exactly like that time in Munich when 
I was just beginning to reflect and pull myself together, and 
I was called up; of course it was no calling up this time, but some- 
thing just as relentless, against which no protest could be of avail. 
Everyone, in the last analysis, experiences only one conflict in 
life, which only disguises itself differently all the time and shows 
up somewhere else , mine is, to make life and work agree in a 
purest sense; where the infinite incommensurable work of the 
artist is concerned, the two directions are opposed. Many have 
helped themselves by taking life lightly, surreptitiously snatching 
from it, so to speak, what they did nevertheless need, or trans- 
forming its values into intoxications the murky exaltation of which 
they then swiftly flung over into art; others had no way out save 
the turning away from life, asceticism, and this means is of course 
cleaner and truer by far than that other greedy cheating of life 
for the benefit of art. But for me this does not come into con- 
sideration either. Since in the last analysis my productivity springs 
from the most direct admiration of life, from the daily inexhaust- 

ible marveling at it (how else would I have come to produce?), so 
I would see a lie in that too, in rejecting at any time the streaming 
of it towards me; every such renunciation, however much one's 
art may potentially gain from it, must finally come to expression 
in that art as hardness, and have its revenge: for who would be 
entirely open and acquiescent in such a sensitive domain, if he 
had a mistrustful, constraining and timid attitude toward life! 
So one learns, alas how slowly; life works its way over a lot of 
"first principles" to 'what purpose do we master it a little in the 

Rodin often reflected upon this in his old age. Sometimes, at 
five in the morning, I would find him standing in the garden, sunk 
in contemplation of the cliffs of Sevres and St. Cloud that slowly 
rose out of the wonderful autumn mist of the Seine as though they 
were now coming, perfectly correctly formed, into being , there 
he would stand, the old man, and consider: "To 'what purpose 
have I mastered it now, this marveling, the knowing how much 
a morning like this is . . . ?" And a year later he understood not 
even this, 'was not master of it after all, had not been master of it 
after all, for an influence, a destiny, far below his level, had 
shrouded him and surrounded him with the most dismal con- 
fusions, out of which no glory declared itself! 

Dear Countess, I only wanted to give you the reasons for my 
silence where have I got to? . . . 

C '573 

To Countess 

Maria Viktoria Attems Schloss Berg am Irchel, 

Canton Zurich, Switzerland 
March 12, 1921 

... In view of the kind interest I discern in your note, it al- 
most comes hard for me to admit the attitude or prejudice which, 
to be honest, I must nevertheless confess to in face of your in- 

I do not know to 'which of my works your artistic ideas have 


reference, but fundamentally it holds for all that I am, alas! 
quite sincerely averse to any accompaniment musical as well as 
illustrative to my works. It is after all my aim to fill with my 
own creative output the whole artistic space that offers itself 
to an idea in my mind. I hate to believe (assuming my creation to 
be successful in a highest sense) that there can be any room left 
over for another art, which would itself then be interpretative 
and complementary. I find illustration quite particularly annoying 
because it dictates certain definite restrictions to the free play 
of the imagination (of the reader) : that the reader should, how- 
ever, keep his whole special freedom in his reception of an artis- 
tically really well-developed work (one might of course ap- 
prove of illustration for some slighter, purely entertaining cate- 
gory) this seems to me to be of the essence of that work's effect. 
So that I cannot imagine the individual arts being nearly separated 
enough; which exaggerated attitude, as I hasten to admit, perhaps 
has its most sensitive reason in the fact that I myself, with a strong 
leaning toward expression in painting, had in my youth to decide 
for one art to escape distraction and so this decision happened 
with a certain impassioned exclusivity. Moreover, in my ex- 
perience every artist while he is producing must, for the sake of 
intensity, regard his means of expression as, so to speak, the only 
ones; for otherwise he might easily come to the conclusion that 
this or that bit of world was not expressible at all by his means, 
and would finally fall into the innermost space between the in- 
dividual arts, which goodness knows gapes wide enough and 
which only the vital tensity of the great masters of the Rennais- 
sance was really able to bridge over. We are faced with the task of 
each clearly deciding for one, his own, form of expression; and to 
this creative activity, enclosed in one province, all coming-to-the- 
rescue on the part of other arts becomes weakening and dan- 
gerous. . . . 


C '5*3 

T0 Erwein Baron von Aretin Schloss Berg am Irchel, 

Canton Zurich, Switzerland 
last day of March, 1921 

Let me, since memory allows me, dwell a while in thought 
of your father. ... I can imagine, dear friend, that to the old 
gentleman the end will not be too hard easier than to you the 
thought of losing him, even though you have seen him suffer so 
long . For that generation, strong and active in such vastly 
different hopes and expectations, the turning away from things 
as they are today is something final , it is almost that for us too, 
since even that least ability still to understand is missing, by which 
one practiced principally in looking into his inner world might 
still remain connected with something more universal. Do not 
for that reason, therefore, regret the uneventful rural remoteness 
of your existence, it offers, perhaps, just as it is, the most favor- 
able conditions for a silent and, in its way, steady connection; be 
it ever so inactive and without marked ups and downs, it is still 
confirmed, believed me, by deepest Nature. Productivity in- 
deed, even the most fertile, only serves to create a certain inner 
constant, and perhaps art amounts to so much only because cer- 
tain of its purest creations give a guarantee for the achievement 
of a more reliable inner attitude (et encore!). Particularly in 
our time, when the majority are driven to artistic (or pseudo- 
artistic) activity by ambition, one cannot insist nearly enough 
upon this last, this only fundamental in the evalution of art, 
which is so deep and hidden that the most inconspicuous service 
in its behalf should all the more be regarded as equal to that most 
conspicuous and illustrious service (i. e., of real production) . 

Indeed, "my" Paris is not the political one! Those characteris- 
tics through which, in the days of my most intense learning, it 
became in an unsurpassed sense a world to me, probably never 
had much influence on the behavior of its politicians, but neither, 
fortunately, could they be destroyed by the mistakes of those 
politicians. Furthermore, what now appears as the extremest 


blindest chauvinism and has indeed the effect of such, still does 
not altogether correspond to that "pan-Germanest Berlin" and the 
dread that it arouses. The Frenchman has too long been accus- 
tomed to consider himself incomparable suddenly to compare 
himself; his overestimation has so infinitely much memory and 
tradition that it becomes perfectly delighted with itself, while 
his every presumption (just like Keyserling's so often) becomes 
charming and innocent. Certain temperaments, too, are so apt to 
see the foreign in the light of something inimical and bad some- 
thing irreconcilably "different"; and what, for the Frenchman, 
has not been simply "different" through all time! I am always 
reminded how utterly impossible it was to impress on Rodin a 
foreign, Austrian or Scandinavian name; one might pronounce 
it for him as often and as accurately as one could , he heard it 
differently, and like the French ear the Frenchman's other senses 
are altogether unalterable. How many frightful mistakes may have 
their reason in this limitation. Also the new insight into the real 
German life could have been successful only in a single very 
transient moment in recent years; as it did not happen then, the 
mistakes of the observer on the other side were bound immediately 
to grow bigger and grosser again, for already the possibility of 
discerning what the German entity wants to become was dimin- 
ished one will obscured the other , and the Frenchman, as a 
beginner in looking out and beyond, promptly failed to follow 
and withdrew into the security of his prejudices which to him 
were incomparably more palpable and dependable. Even we have 
no vision capable of grasping and reconciling that whole mixed 
rather than chemically combined as which a nation appears that 
is at once so shaken and so unawake : the bearer of this vision 
would have to be that very statesman whose absence, in face of the 
need that is demanding him, is almost incomprehensible! 

But where have I got to, on the sixth page of this letter, merely 
making my Paris, that I once left and now know to be unharmed 
in its glory, a little more conjecturable to you. It happens to be 
the only place in the world where, out of temperament and un- 
supervised impulses, such a cross-section of all the directions and 


tensions of human life could develop, one of those hidden foci 
of that ellipse "life" whose other focus is probably but a mirror- 
image of a place fixed far above us. 

Dear friend, I will nevertheless go the ten kilometers over 
to Neuburg and back, at long intervals, to tell you still further 
about all this: for now I know my whole self again, and no part 
of it more than that scared momentary cutout with highly uncer- 
tain edges, to which I was confined during the war. , . . 

C '3 

To Erivein Baron von Aretin Schloss Berg am Irchel, 

Canton Zurich, Switzerland 
May i, 1921 

... I am sure you are fully resigned in feeling and under the 
influence of the pure serene order that indeed cannot but be mute 
and indifferent toward our limitation. 

Your mother will find in her faith that deepest consolation 
that has its source in the very center of sorrow; I only hope you 
may all feel able to make her having to stay behind gentle and 

For the rest it is our grief's strange prerogative that there, where 
it does not appear confused by the contradiction that in in- 
dividual cases we think a life seems incomplete, interrupted, 
broken off , it is allowed to be all learning, all work, purest, most 
perfect awareness. And nowhere does it more largely manifest it- 
self in this singular challenge to us than in the loss of our father in 
his old age: which, in a way, obligates us to collect ourselves 
anew, indeed to a first self-reliance of our inner capacities. 

So long as our father is living, we are naturally as though 
modeled in relief upon him (hence too the tragedy of the con- 
flicts) ; this blow it is that first makes us into the full round, free, 
alas, standing free on all sides . . . (our mother, of course, 
courageous creature, from the beginning set us as far out as pos- 
sible ). . . . 

To Rolf Baron von 

Ungern-Sternberg Le Prieure d'Etoy, Canton de Vaud, 

June 26, 1921 

... I cannot very well wish myself, for a long time to come, 
any other occupation than my own and special one, and with it 
those most quiet, regular conditions that favor it. Schloss Berg 
was a privilege of this sort, but although there was six months 
of it, the period granted was after all still too short to allow me to 
complete what I had so spaciously begun; also my inward sensi- 
bility to fright has grown so great in recent years that any ter- 
mination set in advance, the until-that-time, would almost be 
enough to hamper me. 

That I am without a secure living-place is entirely my fault; 
perhaps, had my family kept their land in the countries in which 
they had from time immemorial been at home, I might have been 
able to evolve for myself from that inherited spot as a starting point 
a useful consciousness of home. The city in which I grew up of- 
fered no proper soil for that; in its air I could neither breathe nor 
plow. So it inevitably happened that I chose places to live in, in 
the measure in which they answered, that is, I involuntarily 
feigned a lineage for myself there where the visible in its outer 
form somehow more closely approached my instinctive need of 
expression ... So long as the world was open and the choice 
of such a composite homeland unlimited, out of everything thus 
acquired, something like a floating and yet sufficiently sustaining 
place actually built itself up, as it were above countries. . . . 


To Princess Marie von Thurn 

und Taxis-Hohenlohe Hotel Chateau Bellevue, 

Sierre (Valais), 
July 25, 1921 

It is getting toward the end of July, and I am not with you. 
Don't prepare any room for me yet, but also don't pronounce the 
death sentence yet on my coming: in August perhaps. 

In these last weeks I have often come very near announcing 
my visit, and a peculiar current came into my rather sluggish 
spirit whenever I wanted to do so; but what holds me on the other 
hand is this wonderful Valais: I was imprudent enough to travel 
down here, to Sierre and Sion; I have told you what a singular 
charm these regions exercised over me when I first saw them last 
year at the time of the vintage: the circumstance that in the 
physiognomy of the landscape here Spain and Provence so 
strangely interact struck me immediately even then: for both land- 
scapes spoke to me in the last years before the war more strongly 
and decisively than anything else; and now to find their voices 
united in an outspread mountain valley of Switzerland! And this 
echo, this family likeness is no imagination. Just recently I read 
in a brief treatise on the plant life of the Wallis that certain flowers 
appear here which are otherwise found only in Provence and 
Spain; it is the same with the, butterflies: thus does the spirit of 
a great river (and to me the Rhone has always been one of the 
most wonderful) bear endowments and kinships through the 
countries. Its valley here is so wide and so grandly filled out with 
little heights within the frame of the big border mountains that 
the eye is continually provided with a play of the most delight- 
ful changes, a chess game with hills, as it were. As if even hills 
were still being shifted and distributed so like Creation in its 
effect is the rhythm in the arrangement, with every point of view 
astonishingly new, of what one beholds , and the old houses and 
castles move the more delightfully in these optical games since 
for the most part they again have the slope of a vineyard, the 

wood, the woodland meadow or the gray rock as background, 
as incorporate in it as pictures in a tapestry; for the most in- 
describable (almost rainless) sky takes part from far above in 
these perspectives and animates them with so spiritual an atmos- 
phere that the special way things stand to each other seems, quite 
as in Spain, to exhibit at certain hours that tension which we think 
to perceive between the stars of a constellation. 

But now to the particulars of my being detained: when I de- 
parted from Etoy about three weeks ago (with my visitor), \ve 
were offered the prospect (we did not want to stay long in the 
hotel) of a little house here which on sight proved impractical; 
we looked at some others in the neighborhood, the time passed , 
until suddenly an object of the greatest temptation appeared. This 
old manoir, a tower, whose walls go back to the thirteenth cen- 
tury, whose beamed ceilings and furnishings too in part (chests, 
tables, chairs) date from the seventeenth, was for sale or for 
rent. At a very cheap price, but still far beyond the possibilities 1 
could realize in Swiss francs. Then last week one of my friends, 
who had known this so-called Chateau de Muzot (pronounced 
Muzotte) for a long time, one of the Reinharts of Winterthur 
rented the house in order to place it at my disposal! And now 1 am 
moving out there tomorrow and will make a little attempt at 
dwelling in these rather stern castle circumstances that cleave to 
one like a suit of armor! I really had to do that, didn't I?, as 
everything has turned out. The presence of my friend makes pos- 
sible the running of a little household even before domestic help 
can be found, should everything work out, I could then manage 
for a while with a housekeeper at Muzot. It lies about twenty 
minutes quite steep above Sierre, in a less arid, happy rusticity 
with many springs tumbling through it, with views into the 
valley, over to the mountain slopes and into most wonderful 
depths of sky. A little rustic church, situated above somewhat to 
the left in the vineyards (no longer visible in the picture), be- 
longs to it. The picture does not do Muzot justice, the tree growth 
in the garden has become much taller in the meantime, also one 
does not see the magnificent old poplar which should be imagined 

a few steps farther forward, to the right beyond the edge of the 
picture, and which is characteristic of the aspect of the little castle 
from wherever one sees it. I myself say "little castle", for this is the 
perfect type of the medieval manoir as it still survives every- 
where here; these castles consisted only of one strong house- 
body like this that included everything. The entrance is from 
the rear where you see the sloping roof jutting out: this floor 
(that of the long balcony built on in front) includes the dining 
room, a little boudoir and the guest room; besides the kitchen (in 
a modern extension); the former kitchen was entirely on the 
ground floor beneath, a single gigantic room (now abandoned, 
for the storing of garden tools etc.). On the next story I have 
established myself. There is my little bedroom which receives its 
light through the windowpane at the right, but also on the other 
side sends out a little balcony into the tree. The double window 
beside it and, around the corner, the next window in the sunlit 
west front belong to my workroom, which we just about finished 
fitting out yesterday, all with appurtenances at hand: it has all 
kinds of promise and attraction for me, with its old chests, its oak 
table of 1600 and the old dark beam ceiling into which is carved 
the date MDCXVII; when I say attraction, that is nevertheless 
not accurate: for actually all of Muzot, while it somehow holds 
me, yet also drives a kind of worry and oppression into my spirit; 
as far as possible, I have familiarized myself with its oldest history: 
the de Blonays probably built it; in the fifteenth century it was in 
the possession of the de la Tournay-Chastillons; at the beginning 
of the sixteenth, a year before the battle of Marignan, the wed- 
ding of Isabelle de Chevron and Jean de Montheys took place 
there (all the guests of those three days of continuous festivity are 
still known and who walked with whom ). Jean de Montheys 
fell at Marignan and was brought back to the young widow at 
Muzot. Immediately thereafter the passions of two suitors be- 
came kindled for her, who in their fire fell out so violently that 
they ran each other through in a duel. The unhappy Isabelle, who 
seemed to have borne the loss of her husband with dignity, did 
not get over this annihilation of both her wooers, between whom 


she herself had not yet chosen; she lost her reason and thereafter 
left Muzot only by night, giving the slip to the solicitude of her 
old nurse Ursule; almost every night one could see her, "tres 
legerement habillee", wandering to Miege to the grave of her two 
hot-blooded suitors, and the legend goes that finally on a winter's 
night she was discovered stiff and dead in the graveyard at 
Miege. So for this Isabelle or for the dead Montheys returning 
over and over, like a pendulum, from Marignan, one must some- 
how prepare oneself and may be astonished at nothing. The 
Chateau de Muzot, now that we have cleaned it out, has gained 
everywhere in brightness and homeliness. The rooms, as in all 
these medieval houses, have about them something honest- 
farmerish, rude, without arriere-pensees . . . Nevertheless , 
and so that I don't forget it, beside my bedroom, in the upper story, 
the so-called old "chapel" lies out behind, a little white-washed 
room, accessible from the hallway through a surprisingly low, 
still quite medieval-gothic doorway, and above it in the wall, as 
a relief standing sharply out, not, as you might think, the cross, 
but: a big swastika! So you see me then, Princess, for the im- 
mediate future under the spell of this Muzot: I must try it. If you 
could see it! When one approaches from the valley, it stands there 
every time like an enchantment above the now already scorched 
rose paths of its little garden, in its color of ancient hewn stone 
that has gray and violet tones, but has roasted and browned itself 
golden in the sun, again like certain walls in Andalusia. . . . 

When your first letter reached me in Etoy, I was at the be- 
ginning of much that was difficult; it has been, in part, overcome, 
and perhaps I shall further succeed in not hurting and yet in re- 
instating what is mine, in a pure equilibrium. My friend will now 
stay here only so long as her assistance is necessary to me at Muzot. 
This landscape, which I had first discovered with her last year, 
says as many notable things to her as it does to me, and I hope her 
great and charming talent for painting will yet prove itself in 
many ways on what it offers. . . . 


T0 Young Girl 

. . . You know that I am not one of those who neglect the 
body in order to make of it a sacrificial offering for the soul, since 
my soul would thoroughly dislike being served in such a fashion. 
All the soarings of my mind begin in my blood, for which reason 
I precede my work, through a pure and simple way of life that is 
free from irritants and stimulants, as with an introductory prelude, 
so that I cannot be deceived over the true spiritual joy that con- 
sists in a concord, happy and as if transfigured, with the whole of 

... A little time yet, and perhaps I shall no longer grasp all the 
conditions out of which these songs (the Duino Elegies), begun 
some time ago, arose. If you know some of these works some day 
you will understand me better; it is so difficult to say what one 

If I look into my conscience I see but one law, relentlessly com- 
manding: to lock myself into myself and in one stretch to end this 
task that was dictated to me at the very center of my heart. I 
am obeying. For you know that being here I have wanted only 
that, and I have no right whatever to change the direction of my 
will before I have ended the act of my sacrifice and my obedience. 

I have now done almost all the preparatory work, that is, I 
have redressed the uncomfortable delays of my correspondence. 
Think, I have written I counted them this morning 1 1 5 letters, 
and not one was less than four pages, and many ran to eight, even 
twelve in close writing. (Naturally I do not count what has gone 
off to you. That is not writing, that is breathing through the pen.) 
How many letters! There are so many people who expect of me I 
hardly know what: help, advice from me, who find myself so 
helpless before the most imperative urgencies of life. And al- 
though I know they deceive themselves, are mistaken, still I feel 
tempted and I don't believe it is vanity to tell them something 


out of my experiences, some of the fruits of my long hours of 
loneliness. There are young women as well as young girls ter- 
ribly deserted even in the bosom of their family. Young married 
women appalled at what has happened to them. And then all these 
young working people, mostly revolutionaries, who come out of 
the state prisons without any orientation whatever, take refuge in 
literature and write drunken, malicious poetry. What shall I say 
to them? How raise their despairing hearts, how shape their 
formless will, which under the violence of events has taken on a 
borrowed, quite provisional character, and which they now carry 
in themselves like an alien strength, the use of which they scarcely 

Make's experiences oblige me from time to time to answer 
these writings from people I do not know. He, he would have 
done it, if ever a voice had reached him. . . . 

Furthermore it is he who obliges me to continue this sacrifice, 
exhorts me to love with all my love's capacities all things to which 
I want to give form. That is the irresistible force the usufruct of 
which he left to me. Imagine to yourself a Make who should have 
had a lover or even a friend in that Paris that was so terrible for 
him. Would he then ever have entered so deep into the con- 
fidence of things? For these things (he often told me in our few 
intimate conversations), whose essential life you want to repro- 
duce, first ask you: Are you free? Are you ready to dedicate your 
whole love to me? To lie with me, as Saint Julian the hospitable 
lay with the leper, in that ultimate embrace that can never be 
fulfilled in an ordinary and fleeting love of one's neighbor, but 
has for its impetus love, the whole of love, all love to be found 
on earth? And if a thing like that sees (so Make told me), if it sees 
you busy with even a single line of your own interest, it will close 
itself to you. It will perhaps bestow a rule upon you with a word, 
make you some slight sign of friendship, but it will forgo giving 
you its heart, entrusting you with its patient nature and its star- 
like steadfastness, which makes it so much resemble the constel- 
lations of the sky. 

You must, in order that it shall speak to you, take a thing 


during a certain time as the only one that exists, as the only 
phenomenon which through your diligent and exclusive love 
finds itself set down in the center of the universe and which in 
this incomparable place on that day the angels serve. What you 
read here, my friend, is a chapter of those lectures I received from 
Make, my only friend during so many years full of suffering 
and temptations, and I see that you mean the same, absolutely, 
when you speak of your drawings and paintings, which seem to 
you valid only because of that infatuation with which brush 
or pencil carry out the embrace, the tender taking of possession. 
Don't be frightened at the expression "fate", which I used in my 
last letter. I call fate all external events (illnesses, for example, 
included) which can inevitably step in to interrupt and annihilate 
a disposition of mind and training that is by nature solitary. 
Cezanne must have understood this when during the last years 
of his life he removed himself from everything that, as he ex- 
pressed it, might "hook him tight", and when, religious and given 
to traditions as he was, he yet gave up going to his mother's 
funeral in order not to lose a working day. That went through me 
like an arrow, when I learned it, but like a flaming arrow that, 
while it pierced my heart through, left it in a conflagration of 
clear sight. There are few artists in our day who grasp this stub- 
bornness, this vehement obstinacy. But I believe that without it 
one remains always at the periphery of art, which is rich enough 
as it is to allow us pleasant discoveries, but at which, neverthe- 
less, we halt only as a player at the green table who, while he now 
and again succeeds with a "coup", remains none the less at the 
mercy of chance, which is nothing but the docile and dexterous 
ape of the law. 

1 have often had to take away Make's writings from young 
people, forbidding them to read them. For this book, which seems 
to emerge in the proof that life is impossible, must so to speak 
be read against its current. If it contains bitter reproaches, these 
are absolutely not directed against life. On the contrary, they are 
the evidences that, for lack of strength, through distraction and 

258 _ 

inherited errors we lose almost completely the countless earthly 
riches that were intended for us. 

Try, my dearest friend, to run through the overabundance of 
those pages in this spirit. This will not spare you tears, but will 
contribute to giving all your tears a meaning clearer and, so to 
speak, more transparent. 

To J.H.j a 'worker who had sent 

Rilke some poems in manuscript 

... It would have been hard for me to put it frankly to 
speak up for your poems: they move in the language of a time 
that is perhaps yours, but into the premises of which I look across 
only from outside and without finding any abiding contact. A 
person like myself is not easily to be dissuaded from thinking that 
the seething mass of productivity that inundates us, as it were, 
does so not out of abundance , but from trouble and disorder 
overflows the banks of everything that has been for us not so 
much limitation as really limit. I do not want to add to your per- 
plexity and depression in a time when the immediate circum- 
stances of existence are hard and refractory for you; still, we really 
ought to follow through what you yourself involuntarily call 
forth. I do not know what metier you have learned , but as a 
worker there must in any case be in you the experience of a cer- 
tain ability to do, and the joy of doing something well cannot 
have remained so entirely unfamiliar to you. If you will look 
forth for a moment from this good, reliable ground out onto 
the rolling sea of your writings, it will not escape you how much 
chance is playing with you' there and how little you have trained 
yourself to use your pen as that which above all it is: an honest, 
accurately controlled tool for which you are responsible. 

You will surely not find it unfriendly if I answer the sincerity 
with which you were good enough to turn to me, in the same 
way that is, sincerely. For the rest, I have the best and most 
earnest wishes for you; one may always hope that to those mo- 


ments that seem utterly hopeless and intolerable the change for 
the better lies closest. May your heart find not only the en- 
durance to wait for the good, but also the disposition to draw it 
to you. 

To Countess Nora 

Purtscher-Wydenbruck Chateau de Muzot sur Sierre, Valais 

September 25, 1921 

. . . Everything turned out worse than I thought. The prepa- 
rations for my "exact" winter made all sort of journeys necessary 
(within Switzerland to be sure), and even today I do not know 
whether Muzot can remain my refuge, or whether I should go 
to visit friends in Canton Aargau; the chief difficulty now is 
the lack of a reliable housekeeper: to find such a person seems 
almost impossible, especially for the somewhat difficult condi- 
tions she would have to watch over and manage at Muzot. And the 
time is passing, and my confidence of being able to realize the 
seclusion so necessary to me, without compromise, in some re- 
mote, wholly congenial place (such as that good Berg was a year 
ago!), grows less with every day. I say that, not to burden you 
with even a shadow of my worry, but only because I have no 
other excuse than this true one for replying so late to what you sent 
me. And this let me admit it at once this really troubles me, 
that I cannot fulfill your wish that I should provide these poems 
of yours with a foreword. You would go too far, dear Countess, 
if you thought to see herein an unfavorable opinion of what you 
have sincerely done: these verses proceed from the most direct 
experience, and most of them have a strength of their own to 
justify them; here and there a most characteristically developed 
line appears, as though that which had been poured in the mold 
of good tradition had been allowed to perfect itself under a 
special handiwork of the heart. All this I have thoroughly felt and 
understood, and I should be speaking contrary to my most natu- 
ral conviction did I admit less. And yet: it seems to me one of 


the fatalities of our time that its penetrating and vehement cur- 
rents sweep avowals of this sort out of desk-drawers, out of the 
(oh so pervious!) houses , and whither, whither? To face a 
publicity overloaded with a lot of half and false and calculated 
production, which has no time and no disposition to be more at- 
tentive and more receptive to something genuine where in the 
crush this is borne toward it than, say, to something that is con- 
spicuous or by some minor means alluring. Would not interiors 
(I often ask myself) be again more lived-in, warmer and more 
intimate, if much that is thus displayed in them were to work 
back into them again? Consider this: how strong, how full is the 
potency of your verses inside your own four walls: a power, are 
they not? a fragrance, an incense , penetrating everywhere, in- 
cluding and enhancing each thing; and how diluted it would be- 
come and lost in the wide windy scattering space of publicity. 
Whether something brought forth from heart and mind belongs 
out there seems to me always more and more a question of pro- 
portion. Naturally nothing that is sincere and authentic is to be 
taken lightly; but every such manifestation is served by a particu- 
lar field of force, and perhaps nothing is so much to blame for 
the anarchy of the world as just the almost total loss of insight 
into the measure and fitness of the forces at work. These, which 
if left in their places would become the center of a circuit con- 
trolled by them, see themselves slung out into the open, where all 
sense of proportion promptly leaves them. Never were squander- 
ings worse or more senseless, and thus too the impoverishments 
made themselves felt in all the enclosed areas, while space does 
not gain anything from the tensions pilfered from them only to be 
lost in it. It is already a hereditary misunderstanding to suppose 
that, save where just simple communications are concerned, one 
can "publish" a particular embodiment of the spirit. Each thing 
of that kind is the center of a smaller or larger sphere, and little 
as one could keep lastingly private and particular some one thing 
that by its nature has the characteristics and interrelationships of 
stars, so little does one increase the force and radiation of some 
other thing by laying it bare and tearing down all the walls 


around it. This will be the most essential correction to which a 
world released into publicity will have to subject itself: that it 
give back every force to its own scope , else it must all end in 
the individual forces being dispossessed, in which case, to be sure, 
what we now call art and intellect would appear to have been 
abolished, together with all the inside rooms of the mind and all 
the heart's equipment. 

The friendly service, dear Countess, which at the publisher's 
suggestion you might have accepted from me, is usually considered 
so simple and easy to obtain that I am ashamed to set up this 
enormous apparatus instead of lightly consenting. But you see, I 
didn't want to take it lightly. What sense would a superficial 
politeness have had between us and in the end what would it have 
been good for? 

Then again I must more and more remind myself that my now 
nearly ten years' silence lays upon the words with which I want 
to break it an extraordinary responsibility: those words, indeed 
all those that I shall ever yet have to form, are made of the stuff 
of the indescribable hindrances that have been put upon me 
through the years (and especially since 1914), and they will be 
heavy and massive by nature. Never was I less in a position to 
appear with light and pleasant words of an occasional sort. It 
seems to me as though from now on but one thing, something 
final and valid, the one thing that is needful, would give me the 
right to speak. 

P.S. A private printing of the poems for your friends I would 
of course fully understand and approve. 

To Carl Sieber Chateau de Muzot sur Sierre (Valais), 

November 10, 1921 

. . . if at first it seemed new to you to use toward me the af- 
fectionate address that is familiar and natural to Ruth, so to reply 
in a corresponding sense also causes me, I confess, a certain em- 


barrassment : only for a moment, however. For already the 
joy of entering into those relations that Ruth expects of us both 
outweighs all hesitation and every slowness of the heart; be then, 
dear boy, through my trust in her, in which you too now belong, 
heartily and entirely welcome. 

When you call me, as Ruth has always called me from child- 
hood up, Vaterchen it obligates me as it movingly obligated 
me towards her in a deepest sense: not only as if my child were 
addressing me, but a human being bound to me in a great and 
mysterious way, uplifting me by his trust. In such a conception 
alone could that be compensated which otherwise should be 
imputed to me as negligence: that I let her forego the really 
familial, its constant companionship and community. She felt 
from childhood that this did not happen out of lovelessness, out 
of arbitrariness, out of thoughtlessness, but because the exclu- 
sive call to the inner realizations of my life was so great that work 
on the external ones, after a brief attempt, had to be abandoned. 
I may be reproached that my strength and my concept did not 
suffice to accomplish both; I have nothing to oppose to such cen- 
sure save the silent indication of those domains into which I have 
thrown all my abilities, waiting to see whether in the end I am 
indicted or acquitted. 

I write you this in all honesty, my dear future son, in order 
that, under the name you give me, I may not later seem somehow 
lukewarm and disappointing: the decisions of my life have long 
since been cast, I can belong completely but to one thing: to 
my work, and must for its sake put aside many great and good 
things that for others, rightly, come before everything. 

Now please do not infer from all this that I underestimate the 
value of what is grounded and established in the family; had I 
seen coming to me something visible, handed down, I would 
probably, despite all inner tasks, have recognized the obligation 
to carry upward and on a worthy growth on the inherited soil. 
But to our family, which since the thirteenth century has had 
substantial and at times widely-scattered abodes, it has not been 
granted to preserve for itself uninterruptedly a fruitful heritage 


of that sort. Under my great-grandfather, the lord of Kamenitz 
an der Linde, the last such attempt broke down , and if to throw 
a person completely inward a series of heavy deprivations are 
indispensible, then among the griefs which forced upon me the 
construction of an inner world one of the greatest was my finding 
myself no longer established and rooted anywhere in the external. 

Ruth's nature (of that I shall sometime be able to tell you pri- 
vately) was from her earliest days of a strange unifiedness; some- 
how she was always concentrated in a zest and joy in what is 
given, tangible, real, simply and immediately resolved to par- 
ticipate actively in it: how could it not move me deeply, dear 
Carl, that, in addition to all you are bringing her, you will be able 
to vouchsafe the dear girl that future as well in which her quiet 
and strong talents, all of which are those of the fruitful and visible 
life, may be applied and developed. 

Your existence will be a simple, a country one, resting on all 
those associations which are the really reliable and constant ones 
of humanity. Even if it should happen that the duties of your 
profession later kept you temporarily in biggish or big cities, you 
will have time to create for yourselves a quiet and untorn founda- 
tion for your companionship in surroundings most deeply native 
and familiar to yourself: may Ruth's trusting and happy heart 
enhance your home to a possession that will now truly be quite 
immeasurable , and may the fulfillment with which she is meet- 
ing in so manifold a way be rounded out to completeness, since 
she may now feel beneath her a strong and permanent ground 
which I was never able to give her and of which she had an an- 
ticipation in little Bredenau, receiving this late-acquired sense of 
home so joyfully and gratefully! 

Clara, on her recent card, wrote me greetings from "all the 
Liebau people". I don't know who all are included in that friendly 
collective in any case I beg you: distribute my solicitous and 
hearty response. Above all I am anxious to present my respectful 
regards to your mother, to whom you will probably show this 
letter anyway. What a kind and natural hospitality I feel from 
all reports you must have shown Clara and Ruth at Liebau! I 


am quite impatient, I can assure you, to have something similar 
conferred on me. At present, to be sure, I must first do every- 
thing to fortify myself for a solitary (I hope highly industrious) 
winter here; no small matter to wrest this from the ancient tower 
of Muzot which for centuries has not been continuously in- 
habited. This vexation was so time-consuming too that I could 
not answer you sooner: hastily and briefly I did not want to 
do it! Goodbye, dear Carl. 

Your Vaterchen 

Rainer Maria 

To Frau Gertnid Ouckama Knoop Chateau dc Muzot sur Sierre 

Valais (Switzerland) 
November 26, 1921 

. . . this Valais (how is it people do not mention it when 
they enumerate the most famous regions of the earth?) is an 
incomparable landscape. At first I did not yet truly grasp it be- 
cause I was comparing it with the most significant of my memo- 
ries, with Spain, with Provence (to which in fact it bears a blood- 
relationship, through the Rhone), and only since I have been 
gazing at it in amazement entirely for its own sake has it revealed 
to me its great proportions and within these, recognizable little 
by little, the sweetest charm and the strongest and most ardent 
tradition. You remember the evenings when one sat as a child 
before bound periodicals in which travels were described, perhaps 
not well, but accompanied by alluring pictures, into which one 
read the whole significance of what it would someday be possible 
to experience, together with an almost melancholy impatience at 
being separated from it by so many years of awakening. Indeed, 
something much deeper may also have been at work in this 
abandoned gazing, the inexpressible fear that one might die before 
all this could be grasped and fulfilled. [And now] these very 
landscapes, with everything that one put into them, as it were, 
the very landscapes of those Sunday afternoons and winter eve- 


nings are being fulfilled here, think of it! Here are their bridges, 
their gateways, their beautiful, light roads that yet span the hills 
around which they are swung like silken ribbons, with here and 
there bits of rustic fencing to right or left, which the draughts- 
man gave in such interesting foreshortening, and which, just like 
the fountains, have remained unforgettable. The hills bear castles, 
and the very towns themselves can, from a certain distance, be 
gathered into something proud and stately: not just into a ro- 
mantic concept, but into a reality beyond all dreams. Chapels, 
mission-crosses at all crossroads, slopes striped with the rows of 
the grapevines and later all curly with their foliage, fruit-trees, 
each with its tender shadow, and (right, oh so right! ) single tall- 
grown poplars set out, exclamation marks of space that say: 
here! ; and not a figure, not a peasant- woman dressed in local 
costume, naturally that does not count as form in it all, as accent 
or measure; not a cart, not a mule, not a cat, but through its pres- 
ence everything becomes more distant, open, airy again by far ; 
and this air in between things, this nowhere-being-empty of the 
world, how one senses it, even if one could not yet hear the caril- 
lon in it, the blessed carillon, which (berry for berry in one's 
ear!) somehow reminds one anew of the grapes! Goethe came 
through the Valais, and I imagine there must be sketches of his, 
observantly sensitive drawings, in which he would have dedicated 
his attention to this complete presence of the individual object 
and how it still leads to the next and the next and on down to the 
farthest distant. 

Perhaps my Muzot occurs it really ought to in one of those 
sketches, not as motif, but as a station on the way to the distance 
(descending stepwise into the valley), as an interval before the 
background that is so beautiful, so gentle, so atmospheric, quite 
without density, almost weightless although a mountain! 

So much for the Valais. But all the time I have had in mind 
that what I really wanted to talk of was why I should find Munich 
not so useful. For were there a single person close to me, even a 
very circumspect and retiring person, I would not have been able 
to depict all this to you in this way. I would be showing it to him 


and translating it for him, this close friendly person , and a little 
would be left over that I could put into form and communicate, 
but not much. This (call it weakness if you must) makes it 
always more impossible for me to live in any place where I might 
become so fond of people that I give myself out to them too gladly 
and variously. The rivalry between intercourse and work became 
almost relentlessly clear to me during the war years ; before 
that I lived in Paris, where I saw, spread over the years, some 
eight people (and people who gave rather than received), the 
natural isolation (ah, and what provisioning at the same time! ) of 
my inner domain. But now it is really true that I must be strict 
about my expenditures, for life is passing and some might think 
that the years which the war and post-war period more or less 
robbed me of should, according to my age and situation, have 
been my most responsible working years. (And they are empty! 
Alas, empty: more than full of horror and distress.) I really don't 
worry about it in this way. Time and age have grown always less 
essential to me. Heavens, when I think how the tide comes flow- 
ing over the boundaries of my childhood , and can I say that my 
youth ever at any time came to an end? And even life and death! 
How open the roads are to us from one to the other, how near, 
how near to the almost-knowing-it, how nearly expressed in 
words, this something in which they suddenly become one (in a 
temporarily nameless unity). So this does not worry me, nor (if 
one only keeps the grace of giving) the manner of giving, whether 
to my neighbor, receptive beside me, or in my work : the dif- 
ference is perhaps not too distinct in the end. Nevertheless, inter- 
course with work is still somehow older in me, ineffable memories 
belong to it in my whole nature, it stands on its rights and I have 
indeed to do nothing but yield to it. Now whether the "work" 
will thereby come to be realized or only the state of mind in- 
wardly corresponding to it in intensity and purity one would 
be as much as the other, and the staying alone in my old tower 
would, in either case, have been to some purpose. For much as the 
artist in one intends the work, its realization, its existence and its 
continuation on beyond ourselves , one will not be really just 

_ 267 

until one understands that even this most urgent realization of a 
higher range of vision appears, from an at last ultimate view, only 
as a means of attaining something once more invisible, wholly of 
the inner world and perhaps not obvious a more intact state in 
the center of one's own being. . . . 

To Countess M. Chateau de Muzot sur Sierre, Valais 

December 2, 1921 

So this time it was / who couldn't write! . . . 

But: it is the same with all of us: the destructive influences of 
recent years overtake us now at this place, now at that, just when 
we might have thought that at last, by a wide lead, we had eluded 
them: they are still there. And as, toward winter, one may dis- 
cover in a clothes closet yet another article that the moths have 
eaten: so one keeps coming upon a new external or internal in- 
jury, upon something or other that is endangered for which 
the fatalities of yesterday and day before yesterday are to blame. 
And it requires a very stable confidence indeed to believe in the 
mending or salvation of so much that is damaged or even to de- 
velop in oneself the certainty that most of what has been destroyed 
and corroded might be replaced by something new and better. 
One has only to consider all the conflicts which quite other gov- 
erning dimensions would have held in check, had not the con- 
vulsions of the time intervened with such frightful concurrence 
in all that bore within it the slightest tendency to decay. Now it 
would indeed be something wonderful if this opportunity for 
ruin, so to speak, that shook everything and put it to the test , 
were to be followed by a stillness, as of that former famous flood! 
Un apaisement, un calme nouveau plus grand que jamais 1'heureux 
moment du renouveau, 1'aurore d'un commencement pur et uni- 
versel. But after so much shaking still to go on being shaken 
and to see ill-will and bewilderment at work almost everywhere, 
at a by no means renovated and purged work, but at those very 
same activities out of which came the boundless doom, just that 


is the worst trial after so much evil. Had there been newspapers, 
that time, long ago, when the flood was ready to subside, as there 
are today, I am sure the waters would not have fallen, or at best 
artificially through the invention of an enormous pumping- 
machine, which, machines being what they are, would have re- 
venged and repaid itself in some other thorough way for the as- 
sistance it had rendered human beings. 

But all that, dear Countess, means for my special, in general 
small case only that at the time your letter came, everything had 
become uncertain for me, Muzot, even the possibility of remain- 
ing longer in Switzerland at all and, beyond that, the whither and 
everything else possible. Really everything. And the remainder of 
this persevering, equable, generous summer, that would have 
deserved to be accepted quite unconcernedly out of the fullness 
it daily offered, consumed itself for me in irksome worry and 
fore-worry about the months ahead, about the winter for which 
I thought positively I would have to create circumstances that, 
similar to those of the last, would be protective and favorable 
to my work and solitude. Finally, by a favorable providence, all 
could be saved at the eleventh hour, when a Swiss friend rented 
Muzot for me and one was able to go about energetically taming 
and persuading, as it were, the still somewhat unruly house, un- 
accustomed for centuries to continuous habitation. It isn't even 
ten days since what was achievable in this connection can be re- 
garded as just about concluded, so that I am no longer exerting 
and busying myself with my house, but (so I hope at least) may 
begin to be busy in it in my again very interrupted way. 

Over the summer I have seen people now and then; indeed, a 
close friend of mine even sacrificed herself to facilitate the fur- 
nishing and housekeeping of my refuge and as it were to get it 
going , she accomplished wonders and worked hard: for on top 
of everything came the calamity that service was not to be ob- 
tained at any price, and when finally an engagement was con- 
cluded and one had with much effort imported from Canton 
Solothurn what they call in Switzerland a "daughter", this afore- 
said daughter turned out to be so inexperienced and unresource- 


ful, that a long schooling and drilling was again necessary in 
order to acclimatize her to the situation here (which is, to be sure, 
new and in many ways onerous). 

This second person without whom one cannot manage : what 
a problem! Last year, in Berg, where simply everything suited 
me so incomparably, it was solved by a simple natural girl full 
of tact, decorum and adaptability , but I knew at once that this 
was an exception. Had I the strength to isolate myself better, I 
would of course always prefer the help of an equal, an assistant, 
to any domestic service (which is really always a dubious busi- 
ness in present-day circumstances and to some extent a subterfuge: 
since, namely, through social enlightenment, there has been sup- 
pressed in people the instinct and the innocence to consider 
"serving" as blossoming and fecund a form of life as any other 
employment, if only it proceeds from a lively spirit.) But every 
equal, human or friendly relation based on help would require of 
me, being what I am, a degree of association that would promptly 
betray me again into unpredictable outgivings of the heart and 
lead almost unavoidably to a rivalry with work. Perhaps it is only 
in these years, where I have so much work and reflection left to 
catch up, that it is so dangerous for me, but it is becoming ever 
plainer to me how, truly, I have to decide between human inter- 
course and work, as if actually I had only just one thing to give, 
which will either communicate itself directly to those nearest me, 
or else remain preserved more lastingly and in a sense for more 
general use in the treasury of artistic creation. Other people work- 
ing at art (so it seems at least) have stores aplenty for close and 
closest intercourse, yes, far from its consuming them, they in- 
crease by its means their assets and their inner span, which then on 
the other side benefit their artistic achievement. With me that has 
never been so, but now there is more and more of a split into a 
crossroads, as if there were just one single thing in me that, in 
one way or another, after resolute decision, remained to be com- 
municated, but that is not to be passed on in two different ways. 
And although, from a highest point of view, it might again be in- 
different whether a person gave out his ultimate and essential in 


this way or in that: in the modestly continuing effect of a word 
to a friend, or, more demonstrable and visible afar, in something 
that through its transformation is lastingly built into surviving 
things: nevertheless my entire disposition and the course of my 
life drive me (certainly not out of vanity!) more toward this last 
form of expression and transmitting and somehow obligate me to 
it. But this ever new conflict that arises from such a vocation, and 
all this talk about the solitude one wants to safeguard and pro- 
tect for oneself! In Paris it was there automatically and without 
emphasis , and didn't have to be further justified and defended 
at all; everyone has it there who needs it, and even a well-known 
name (which did not indeed threaten one there!) is not neces- 
sarily a hindrance to being alone. (Wasn't Baudelaire alone! 
Wasn't Verlaine . . . ?) How well moreover one manages for 
one's entire existence with a few, with five, six, perhaps nine actual 
experiences which, merely inflected, place themselves again and 
again in the center of one's heart. Thus I remember, as a young 
man, having gone through* the most amazed embarrassment if I 
had secured myself an hour of solitude in my room by explaining, 
in face of the curiosity customary in families, for what purpose I 
needed that hour, what I was planning to do in it: that alone suf- 
ficed to render useless from the start the limited solitude I had 
won, to sell it out, so to say, in advance. The tone that had fallen 
upon this hour nullified its innocence, confiscated it, made it un- 
fruitful, empty, and even before I entered my room my betrayal 
had anticipated me there and filled it to every corner with bank- 
ruptcy, secretlessness and desolation. (And it is something like 
that even today! Whether because it really is so, or because the 
suggestion of that early experience so strongly influences all that 
has come later and even today still overwhelms it!) From the 
standpoint of such experiences must one observe the existence of 
children, their disappointments and often so incommensurable 
distresses, of which, while they are happening to them, they still 
can give no account at all; so that what we now comprehend, 
retrospectively, could be registered at the time it was suffered 
only as misliking, misbehavior, as some sort of mis-, mis-, mis- . . 

Well, I still believe we have spared our children many such 
things or made them easier, quite without credit to ourselves in 
part, simply because certain facts that have emerged from psycho- 
logical discoveries have, whether we happen to know it or not, 
become unconscious reality in us out of which we act far more 
than out of the principles and moralities that may still cling to us 
and that as parents, so to say, "for professional reasons" we be- 
lieved we had to take over. . . . 

To Xaver von Moos Chateau de Muzot sur Sierre, Valais 

December 12, 1921 

... I am inclined to speak first of your poems: to say so at 
once, I am surprised and pleased by them. . . . Believe me, it does 
not often happen that I see myself justified in approving something 
sent me like this by a younger man: the more pleasing is the ex- 
ception, when once it may be granted. The happier does it make 
me, Verhaeren would have written! For happy he was whenever 
he found something, something that had succeeded; no one who 
was privileged to experience his grasping of a thing and being 
moved by it, will have forgotten it; where the mind and vigor of 
a young artist struck him as convincing he could rejoice over every 
line standing there clean and firm, and his approval was then un- 
conditional, unshakable, he stood for it bodily, with all his mind, 
with his whole being. Measure by that 'what his belief, his ap- 
proval could do for one! I had the good fortune to receive both 
in the years of our acquaintance; even though my language was a 
closed book to him and he could not really know any of my 
works, he believed in what I was doing and backed it up in me 
with his powerful personality. And I don't know but the thing 
most precious to me was that without any tangible proof, on the 
basis of what remained inexpressible between us, he had con- 
fidence in my work, that it was true, that it was necessary, and 
treated me accordingly from the first moment. I was indescribably 
fortified by this great friend and his belief in me bore the more 

fruit, as it was my lot not to experience masculine friendship un- 
til comparatively late. His friendship and Rodin's therefore in- 
finitely touched and stirred me, and I myself would still be 
far from able to estimate how these two influences affected and 
stimulated me. 

My admiration for Verhaeren was considerably older than our 
acquaintance, his earlier books, especially the Villes tentacu- 
laires, occupied me constantly in the first years of my (almost 
twelve-year) stay in Paris. The first of his books, which he came 
himself to give me, was the volume of Multiple splendeur, which I 
was at heart prepared to accept as out of the common. From then 
on we saw each other often and yet (since the relentless fact is 
there, of having to measure it against our loss) not nearly often 
enough. He lived outside of Paris, in St. Cloud, and only for a 
few months each winter: sometimes when his way into town had 
led him into my neighborhood, he unexpectedly (it suited me 
every time!) dropped in (and his glorious warmth of heart came 
sweeping over me): sometimes, following a sudden impulse, I 
(whose life in Paris was of the loneliest) drove out and pulled 
the old-fashioned bell-rope on the door of his cramped and yet 
ever friendly apartment. And what a guest one was, the moment 
one stepped over the threshold; how all traditions of being a 
guest awoke in one's mind; so large, so open, so complete was his 
reception that one became a great guest, guest from afar, utterly 
and entirely guest, guest of all guests, simply in order to keep the 
balance. . . . 


To Robert Heinz Heygrodt Chateau de Muzot 

December 24, 1921 

You have sent me (I received it yesterday) through our mutual 
friend Dr. Hiinich a work that deals most exhaustively and pains- 
takingly with my literary output. You have, so to speak, proved 
the words written about me in this book by the most thorough- 
going deed: so I will assure you at once that I am wanting neither 


in belief in your kindly disposition toward me nor in the readiest 
thanks to you. 

Dr. Hiinich will have told you that I cannot bring myself to 
read books and articles that deal with my work; I long held it for 
a weakness that I could not prevail upon myself to do so, and in 
part it may actually be nothing else. Meanwhile I have had since 
about 1907, through an important example (which I shall men- 
tion presently), a growing conviction that seems after all singu- 
larly to justify this consistent attitude of refusal. For I believe 
that as soon as an artist has once found the living center of his ac- 
tivity, nothing is so important for him as to remain in it and 
never to go further away from it (for it is also the center of his 
personality, his world) than up to the inside wall of what he is 
quietly and steadily giving forth; his place is never, not even for 
an instant, alongside the observer and judge. (At least not any 
more in an environment in which the visible everywhere degen- 
erates into the ambiguous and temporary, into a prop, into a 
scaffolding for anything whatever.) And indeed it requires an al- 
most acrobatic skill to leap from that observation-post back into 
the inner center again, neatly and unharmed (the distances are 
too great, the places themselves all to shaky for such an eminently 
inquisitive feat.) Most artists today use up their strength in this 
going back and forth, and not only do they expend themselves 
in it, they get themselves hopelessly entangled and lose a part of 
their essential innocence in the sin of having surprised their work 
from outside, tasted of it, shared in the enjoyment of it! The in- 
finitely grand and moving thing about Cezanne (and I have now 
come to the "example" mentioned above) is that during almost 
forty years he remained uninterruptedly within his work, in the 
innermost center of it , and I hope someday to show how the 
incredible freshness and purity of his pictures is due to this ob- 
stination: their surface is really like the flesh of a fruit just broken 
open , while most painters already stand facing their own pic- 
tures enjoying and relishing them, violating them in the very 
process of the work as onlookers and recipients ... (I hope, as I 
say, someday convincingly to point out this to me absolutely 


definitive attitude of Cezanne's; it might act as advice and warn- 
ing for anyone seriously determined to be an artist.) 

So much for this first point. But there is another thing Dr. 
Hiinich will not have kept from you: how strongly I resist and 
oppose all dragging forth and explaining of my so-called * 'early 
period". In so far as you have started from this point I must dis- 
agree with your presentation. Those unfortunately extant experi- 
ments cannot really be made use of for anything, they are not, in 
any, any way the beginning of my work, far rather the most 
private end of my childish and youthful helplessness. If I ever 
have the pleasure of meeting you some day or of writing you in 
more detail, I shall perhaps try to lay before you the reasons for 
this situation, which are not only specifically Austrian but also 
markedly dated as to time: I have no doubt that you will then be 
inclined to agree with me. 

Now I did leaf through just these pages about the "young 
Rilke" a little bit last evening. Too bad. I remembered the re- 
proach that Stefan George (about 1899, t he only time we met, in 
Florence) thought it well to impress upon me so explicitly: that 
I had published too early. How very, very right he was! But even 
this publishing . . . well, let us leave that for another time. 
Around page 30 of your book there are a lot of actually untrue 
statements. Just as one would be wrong in working Malte Laurids 
Brigge (as I warned Dr. Hiinich) as a mine of biographical ma- 
terial, one should not translate those wretched little stories of 
which you occasionally make use into a personal record. No, those 
interieurs did not reproduce the milieu of the boy Rene's sur- 
roundings! Here, as was unavoidable, mistakes and wrong con- 
clusions pile up, the accents are all over the wrong vowels. The 
military school: its enormous significance, since it became the 
early and sole occasion for the "turning around", the way in- 
ward even to the inmost center! In short, all the emphasis here 
should have been different. But how, naturally, and whence to 
draw the indications for it, since those impotent little products 
were only mental pictures, little white lies for the purpose of as- 

_ 275 

serting and sustaining oneself against those who were so entirely 
unable to help one to one's own self-assertion. 

You understand, my dear Herr Heygrodt, that with all this no 
reproach is intended. If I were to read the things that deal with 
me in relation to my life, how many corrections would have to 
be made! But so far as your book is concerned I am quite sure 
that, aside from these incidental mistakes, it contains much in- 
sight, much understanding and above all much joy in the work as 
you did it. And that in itself should in any case win out, 

Thank you! . . . 


To Use Blumenthal-Weiss Chateau de Muzot sur Sierre 

December 28, 1921 

... So far as the influence of my books is concerned, surely 
you greatly overestimate its power and effect on you; no book, 
any more than a helpful word, can do anything decisive if the 
person concerned is not already prepared through quite invisible 
influences for a deeper receptivity and absorption, if his hour of 
self-communion has not come anyway. To move this hour into 
the center of one's consciousness some one thing suffices: some- 
times a book or art-object, sometimes the glancing up of a child, 
the voice of a person or a bird, even, in certain circumstances, the 
sound of the wind, a cracking in the floor, or, when we still 
used to sit before open fires (which from time to time I have 
done in my life), a gazing into the changing flames. All this and 
many slighter things, apparently accidental, can cause and con- 
firm a finding of oneself or a finding-of-oneself-again (such as 
you are celebrating! ) . The poets yes, now and again even they 
too may be among these good inducements . . . Not out of 
modesty, not at all, but because his indescribably penetrating art 
has meant so much to me through the years and has so often led 
me to collect my own inner faculties, I am inclined to believe that 
Jacobsen deserves much, much more credit for your delightful,. 


happy experiences and progress. Give him the honor; and your 
dear child . . . and, if you absolutely insist, me too, but as one 
nameless among a hundred unnamable influences. Belief! there 
is no such thing, I almost said. There is only love. The forcing of 
the heart to hold this and that for true, which we commonly call 
belief, has no sense. First one has to find God somewhere, ex- 
perience him as so infinitely, so utterly, so enormously present; 
then 'whatever one feels toward him be it fear, be it astonish- 
ment, be it breathlessness, be it after all love it hardly matters 
any more. But for belief, that compulsion to God, there is no 
room where one has begun with the discovery of God, in whicli 
there is then no stopping any more, at whatever point one may 
have begun. And you, as a Jewess, with so much most spon- 
taneous experience of God, with such ancient fear of God in your 
blood, should not have to bother about a "belief". But simply 
feel his presence in yours: and where He, Jehovah, wanted to be 
feared it was after all only because in many instances there was 
no other means of contact between man and God except just 
fear. And fear before God is only, so to speak, the rind of a con- 
dition, the inside of which does not taste of fear, but can ripen 
to the most ineffable namelessness and sweetness for him who 
loses himself within it. You have, do not forget, one of the 
greatest gods of the universe in your descent, a God to whom one 
cannot just be converted at any time as to that Christian God, but 
a God to whom one belongs, through one's people, because from 
time immemorial he made one and formed one in one's fore- 
fathers, so that every Jew has been established in Him (and in 
the one whom none may dare to name), ineradicably planted in 
Him, with the root of his tongue! 

I have an indescribable confidence in those peoples that have not 
come to God through belief but have experienced God through 
their own race, in their own stock. Like the Jews, the Arabs, to a 
certain degree the orthodox Russians and then, in another way, 
the peoples of the East and of ancient Mexico. To them God is 
origin, and therefore future as well. To the others he is something 


deduced, something away from which and toward which they 
strive as really strangers or as people who have grown estranged 
and so they are always needing the intercessor, the mediator, him 
who translates their blood, the idiom of their blood into the 
language of the godhead. What these people achieve then is in- 
deed "belief"; they must conquer and train themselves to hold 
for true that which is a true thing for the God-descended, and 
for this reason their religions slip so easily into the ethical, 
whereas a God originally experienced does not separate and dis- 
tinguish good and evil in relation to men but for his own sake, 
passionately concerned over their being-near-to-him, over their 
holding- and belonging-to-him and over nothing else! Religion is 
something infinitely simple, ingenuous. It is not knowledge, not 
content of feeling (for all content is admitted from the start, 
where a man comes to terms with life), it is not duty and not 
renunciation, it is not restriction: but in the infinite extent of the 
universe it is a direction of the heart. However a man may pro- 
ceed, wandering to right or to left, and stumble and fall and get 
up, and do wrong here and suffer wrong there, and here be mis- 
treated and over there himself miswish and mistreat and misun- 
derstand: all this passes into the great religions and upholds and 
enriches in them the God that is their center. Even the man who 
lives on the last periphery of such a circle belongs to this mighty 
center, though he may but once, perhaps in dying, have turned 
his face to it. The Arab's turning to the East at certain hours and 
casting himself down, that is religion. It is hardly "belief". It has 
no opposite. It is a natural being-set-in-motion inside an existence 
through which God's wind sweeps three times daily, since this 
at least we are: pliant. 

I think you must understand and feel ho*w I mean this, and so 
may it somehow enter into the calm and open frame of mind you 
call your convalescence, and there work on to your security and 

2 7 8 

T0 Frau Amann-V olkart Chateau de Muzot sur Sierre (Valais) 
What a kind idea that was of yours, to present to me so com- 
prehensively and clearly the elements of "catkinology" in your 
parcel and the supplementary letter; after this there is no need 
of further or more precise information: I am convinced! So there 
are no "hanging" pussywillows (strange to say) , and even if there 
were some rare tropical exception, I couldn't use it anyway. The 
poem passage I wanted to check for factual correctness stands 
and falls by the reader's grasping and understanding, on his first 
feeling, just this falling of the catkin, otherwise the image used 
there loses all sense. So the absolutely typical phenomenon of this 
inflorescence must be evoked , and it also became clear to me 
at once, from the very informative illustrations of your little 
book, that the bush which, years ago, conveyed to me the im- 
pression now used in my work must have been a hazelnut; whose 
twigs are provided most thickly, before the appearance of its 
leaves, with long, perpendicularly hanging catkins. So I know 
what I needed to know and have substituted "hazel" for "willow" 
in the text. 

But to you, dear kind lady, I am indebted for this certainty and 
the helpful surprise whereby it was so unexpectedly brought me. 
I will fetch various other useful bits of instruction from this little 
volume, then in a few days it will go back to you. . . . 

C '7O 

To Lou Andreas-Salome Chateau de Muzot sur Sierre 

Valais, Switzerland 
December 29, 1921 

. . . Well, it has just been possible to arrange that I am to sit 
in my strong little tower until further notice; I am really only 
just beginning to turn its protection, its silence to account, and 
wish for nothing but a good spell of seclusion and that it may be 
long and uninterrupted. 


Though one cannot escape a certain sense of immobility, still 
one feels the wholesomeness of neutral territory very much here 
and added to that this magnificent landscape (reminding me of 
Spain and Provence) . I have done everything to hold myself in 
it; and in reinforcing this effort the old masonry walls within 
which I sit have been not unessential. . . . 

But above all the quiet winter must first have come and gone. 
If I am allowed a long and uninterrupted one, I hope to get a little 
further than last year in Berg, if not to catch up with myself 
altogether, still so far that I can see myself walking on ahead 
of myself with space enough between to fetch longer breaths. The 
interruptions of the war years have left me with an incredible 
difficulty in concentrating, so that I cannot manage to get through 
without the support of this most literal being alone. More than 
ever, every communication becomes for me a rival to my work, 
which probably comes to be the case with everyone who more 
and more has in mind only one thing and thus in giving, whether 
to himself or to the world, gives out this same one thing. A few 
days ago I was offered a dog; you can imagine what a temptation 
that was, especially as the lonely situation of the house makes the 
presence of a watchdog quite advisable. But I felt at once that 
even this would result in much too much relationship, through 
my interest in such a housemate; everything alive, that makes 
demands, hits upon an infinite desire in me to fall in with it, from 
the consequences of which I must then painfully disengage my- 
self again when I realize that they are using me up completely. 

Are you in Vienna, dear Lou? then greetings to Freud : I 
see with pleasure how his work is now beginning to have an im- 
portant effect in France which has so long turned a deaf ear. Not 
much reaches me thence, save now and then a word from Gide; 
only the poetry of Paul Valery really astonishes me, whose u Le 
Cimetiere marin" I managed to translate with an equivalence I 
scarcely thought could be achieved between the two languages. 
When I am a little more certain in my own work, I hope to have 
a try at his prose too; there is a glorious dialogue, "Eupalinos" , 
like all Valery's few works of a serenity, a calm and equanimity 


of language that you too would entirely appreciate. Paul Valery 
stems from Mallarme; about twenty-five years ago a remarkable 
article appeared (L'Introduction a la methode de Leonard de 
Vinci) , which he has now 1919 published with an extraordi- 
narily beautiful introduction; but starting from Mallarme meant 
with the next half step landing in silence, dans un silence d'Art 
tres pur, and so it was too: Valery kept silent and worked at 
mathematics. Only recently, during the war, 191 5 or 1916, did the 
need for artistic expression arise again, so much the purer, in the 
man of fifty: and what has since come from him is of the greatest 
distinction and significance. . . . 

I think of you a great deal, it is the time between the two 
Christmases, the first and the Russian . . . That you could get 
news from there: it almost seems incredible that the one over 
there is still alive and can still communicate itself to us here. . . . 

P.S. A brood of little ladybugs is wintering with me (which 
might somehow have happened in Schmargendorf too); one, a 
particularly successful one they don't all turn out equally well 
in this parlor-winter has just wandered across the paper: take 
it for a good omen! 

C '73 3 

To Xaver von Moos Chateau de Muzot sur Sierre, Valais 

December 30, 1921 

. . . No, I am not in the least disappointed that you "extremely 
seldom" write down any poetry and do not give yourself over 
to hopes of achieving something final and perfect in this field. 
On the contrary, I am glad to see this restraint in you at a time 
when the barriers against the realm of artistic achievement have 
almost all been torn and trodden down by those who want to 
have everything in common. The taking up of some other definite 
particular profession (to which will you want to belong? ) will 
surely not prevent you (in whom the tools of constructive lan- 
guage seem already assured and prepared) from confidently pro- 


ducing, when the hour has come, something responsible and 
necessary. I would like to emphasize that my confidence in you 
in this respect is extraordinarily sure. And of course you have 
examples enough, if you needed any, of there being no harm in 
performing, in a subsidiary office, this, the most glorious high mass 
of the soul: think of Mallarme , or, what lies much closer, of 
your great Spitteler, whose most enduring poems, if I am not 
mistaken, were written at a time when he was still far from put- 
ting all his energy into this powerful service. And Paul Valery, 
who was altogether silent for something like twenty years and, I 
believe, worked at mathematics, besides carrying on some civil- 
service job as well, docs he perhaps not owe the repose and 
finality of his poetic word to this long-suffering abstention? 

When my father in his day expected me to carry on as an 
avocation (alongside the profession of officer or of lawyer) the 
art to which I felt myself destined, I did indeed rebel most vio- 
lently and persistently, but that was entirely because of our 
Austrian conditions and the rather narrow milieu in which I 
grew up; to put through, with divided energy, anything artis- 
tically true and distinctive in such a milieu, with its furthermore- 
so close proximity to the artistic dilutions of the '8os of the last 
century, would have been entirely unthinkable , indeed, I had, 
in order to begin at all, to free myself completely from the con- 
ditions of family and home; belonging to those who, only later, 
in homes of their own choosing, could test the strength and bear- 
ing capacity of their blood. Since then so much has changed. 
Much pioneer work has been done, art has been freed, there was 
air and room enough (at least before the war) for everyone who 
inwardly needed them . . . And as I myself have time and again 
regretted not being in a daily profession which, independent of 
the currents of grace, can always be carried on, simply, every day, 
so I would also advise every young person at least to live his way 
far into tasks of that sort before wholly identifying his existence 
with the relentless demands of being an artist. . . . 


C '7*3 

T0 7/^72 Delp Chateau de Muzot sur Sierre/Valais 

January 4, 1922 (evening) 

You will have thought of your letter reaching me on the first 
day of the new year (for that matter, along with a mail so big, and 
so little superficial, that it was almost too much, all at once: never- 
theless it had its place and called forth its special joy here, out of 
which I want to thank you at once) . 

To thank you for complying with, as you write, my "great 
desire" . . . yes, but did you really? Into this everyday you 
were to describe you continually let in so much space, space and 
interspace, sky-space, world-space and all the spaces of the most 
open upward glance, that your person contracted in the midst of 
them to the tiniest little figure: I was hoping for an interieur, but, 
scarcely there, you began mentioning organ. . . and violin, . . . 
and again aroused something limitless, merely to vanish quickly in 
it. Only in the garden I thought for a moment to catch sight of 
you, but you were already surrounded, already covered up from 
me by the twenty young creatures and their "distracted" raking. 

Well, well. I too, if I could show you how, how small I have 
been standing here for years, beside what I have in mind or what 
has been set for me: I too am immediately covered up by it, the 
more so as what wants to be done should have been done back in 
1914 , now it has not, to be sure, become bigger, since even then 
it was full-grown and really incommensurable , but the bad 
years have rolled me like a pebble into their breakers and have 
almost ground away my heart, so that now it stands there, dis- 
proportionately diminished, beside its (from eternity) greatest 

To translate the magnificent sonnets of Michelangelo, really to 
transform them into German, I planned already some years ago, 
in protest against the existing translations which are full of in- 
adequacies, a game of childish versifying, with exception of those 
few in which Hermann Grimm proved his quiet mastery. No, 
naturally, I am not expressing anything of my own in them when 

_ 28? 

I give them to my language to hold; (who am I, that I should be 
permitted that) . Also they are not even testimonials of Michel- 
angelo's whole existence; consider what a side occupation they 
were, and what kind of a work rose beside them into the colossal 
(now and then they are like a rough sketch of his fatalities, and 
perhaps of the fatalities of artistic production itself!) Take them 
as this, keep them far away from me: it is not with my fatalities 
that they deal. And if I attempted to arrange mine in sonnets, it 
would be sad: for I would have no other work beside me that 
would surpass such an undertaking , even where it justified it. 

Yes, things were such that I felt you very much in those days: 
not exactly the most on the tenth, while I was writing: rather a 
few days previously and soon afterwards (on the twelfth? I've 
forgotten now). But in that corner, in which you might have 
come to me, I intentionally was not; I have never heard anyone 
speak even one verse of mine (with one exception, to be exact: at 
Hofmannsthal's wish, Lia Rosen, once years ago, recited the poem 
The Blind Woman for me) ; don't like it: as long as I live I shall 
know how to do it better and don't want to be disturbed. Indeed, 
it was wrong of them to place older things (for unity's sake) at 
the end, especially in my case where almost all that is older, with 
exception of the Book of Hours, is weak. No, no one can, offhand, 
mold something whole, round, out of anybody, how then out of 
me who am just beginning to move, who still have so far to go . . . 

And so now you are having winter, you gardener, and are 
caught. And have, I see, moved into a new prison. Make it wide 
for yourself in there. Touch something glorious. 


To Frail Gertriid Ouckonna Knoop [January ?, 1922] 

What shall I say? Little as you were able recently, after 
copying those notes, to write me anything besides, so little am I 
myself now able to communicate myself to you as long as I am still 
the reader of those pages, bent over them, always, despite all look- 
ing up. I had had no idea of all that, I scarcely knew any particulars 


of the beginnings of that sickness , and now all at once it was the 
introduction into something so manifoldly moving, affecting, 
overwhelming to me. If one were to read this, and it concerned 
any young girl one hadn't known, it would already be close 
enough. And now it is Vera, whose dark, strangely concentrated 
charm is so inexpressibly unforgettable and so fabulously evocable 
that, at the moment of writing this, I would fear to shut my eyes 
lest I suddenly feel it quite surpass me, in my hereness and 

How much, how much, how much she 'was all that, that to 
which these memories of her suffering bear so deep and irrevocable 
a witness, and isn't it true? how wonderful, how unique, how 
incomparable a human being is! Here there came into being, now 
that everything was allowed to consume itself, suddenly, which 
otherwise might have lasted for a long being-here (where? ) , here 
there came into being this excess of light in the heart of the girl, 
and in it became visible, so infinitely illumined, the two extreme 
limits of her pure intuition: this, that suffering is an error, an 
obscure misunderstanding arising from the physical that drives its 
wedge, its stony wedge, into the unity between heaven and the 
earth , and on the other hand this united oneness of her heart, 
open to everything, with this unity of the existing and enduring 
world, this assent to life, this joyous, deeply moved, capable of 
the ultimate belonging in the here-and-now ah, in the here- 
and-now only? No (which she could not know in these first 
attacks of break-off and parting! ) into the whole, into a much 
more than here-and-now. Oh how, how she loved, how she 
reached out with the antennae of her heart beyond all that is 
graspable and encompassable here , in those sweet hovering 
pauses in pain which, full of the dream of recovery, were still 
vouchsafed her. . . 

It seems, dear friend, that fate has set store upon leading you out 
beyond the common bourn, each time as it were on an overhang- 
ing crag of life, to the ravine of death and with heart laid ever 
barer. Now you are living and looking on and feeling out of in- 
finite experience . 

But for me . . . it has been like an enormous obligation to what 
in me is innermost and most earnest and (though I attain it only 
from afar) most blissful, that on the first evening of a new year I 
was permitted to take these pages into my possession. 


To Use Blumenthal-Weiss Chateau de Muzot sur Sierre 

' January 25, 1922 

There are two of your kind and always beautiful letters to 
acknowledge; but I am limiting myself from the outset to this page 
because now a letter-fasting-time, in all strictness, has really begun 
for me in which, perhaps for several months, I may allow myself 
only the most urgent exceptions, concentrated into briefest form. 

Let the first thing this time be my wish that your indisposition 
with all its unpleasantnesses may meantime have been overcome; 
but, with presence of mind, you have won from it something good 
too in the way of quiet and remaining inwardly occupied, to 
which The Notebooks of Make Laurids Brigge became an in- 
centive to you: I thank you for the intense sympathy you felt for 
those pages whose genesis lies far behind me now (as, for that 
matter, that of all my publications) . In so far as what is my own 
and most my own went into it, it experienced endless trans- 
formations and translations; that we should heighten it to the most 
accessible degree of a certain validity, for that purpose life and 
destiny are peculiarly entrusted to us artistic workers; if this 
heightening succeeds, then what actually happened is superseded 
and no longer worth discussing. And for that matter, even in the 
experiencing itself, where is the boundary to what is one's own? 

He who trains his senses to the purest and most inward partici- 
pation in the world, what, in the end, will he not have been? 

Isn't it best and richest to see it thus? 

I obey the page which dictates my closing and make use of its 
little, last space for many good wishes for you. 


To Alivine von Keller Chateau de Muzot sur Sierre (Valais), 

January 26, 1922 

Eva Cassirer, our dear mutual friend, admonishes me to send 
you the answer to the letter I just received from her, which I do 
the more gladly as since the good lines you wrote me a year ago 
your name has been marked on my list; after all, contrary to the 
prospect and hope of that time, I have never been permitted to 
thank you personally for so lovely an attention. 

Eva Cassirer' s letter, you are acquainted with it, engrossed me 
exceedingly, I would gladly consider it, but, it can't be helped, 
I must anticipate in myself the "No" which would have to form 
the conclusion of all my deliberations. 

The experiment she spontaneously proposes is confronted, 
fairly insurmountably, with practical difficulties ; but it isn't 
this alone. In this case particularly it would not do to draw close 
to one the life of a hard-pressed young person, without turning 
attentiveness and sympathy to his conflicts, indeed, being there 
outright for them. My nature, even against my will, would take 
this attitude; but I may not expose it to the danger of thus em- 
ploying itself at a time when I have set myself inner tasks, for 
which the least diversion outward would be so hindering that I 
have had to take upon myself the most rigid solitude; I am living 
separated from people, whom I neglect with a heavy heart , that 
may excuse me if I forbid myself to exercise any influence now 
of a personal kind, even the most spontaneous , the bounds of 
which I would be all too inclined to overstep in the case of a 
sympathetic young person suffering from himself. 

Now that is not to say that this glance into the destiny of young 
F.H. will not occupy me beyond the moment. Life-weariness, at 
his age, is indeed only the negative of a great prizing of life which 
has been so constantly disappointed that his attention has finally 
remained fastened to the hollow form, because the forces were 
hemmed in that should have attempted the "cast" of this negative. 

Also one is never closer to a "turning" than when existence, even 
into its smallest and most ordinary aspects, passes for "unbear- 
able" , just then to wait a while longer should be a task of 
curiosity at least. How much that is beautiful must already 
have fallen to the lot of this young person for the conviction to 
become so passionate in him of not having sufficed, that is of 
having "spoiled" it. Please, help him, dear lady, to see how 
great is the innocence of the heart and that it is not at all in our 
power so to disfigure its nature that continually new purity 
would not spring from it! 

Only this today, to be quick; may you find a happy way out 
and come to me sometime with report of something confident. 

To Lotti von Wedel Chateau de Muzot sur Sierre/Valais 

January 28, 1922 

Yes, now, as you say, many a letter will be laid aside that 
the propitious solitude of Muzot may more and more stand the 
test even in the sphere of writing , but yours brings me tidings 
too friendly, too deeply concerning me, for me to postpone writ- 
ing you at least a provisional word of thanks. 

Chiefly I rejoice in your so strong establishment in a joyous 
and active situation and promise myself good things from all that 
will gradually come out of it. Nothing is more gladdening than 
when one can really put oneself to use again, be it for the benefit 
of plans or of memories; finest of all, when both work together 
and joy and freedom arise to carry on the one in the other. 
/ am far from this good turning, still; to "liquidate", so to speak, 
the obstructions of the war years, to loosen stone by stone from 
the ring of wall that seemed to separate me as much from what 
was past as from everything that might yet have come, is still 
my modest occupation, I don't know for how long; but since 
after all, for people like us, nothing is really as necessary as 
patience, even this excuse for learning it better cannot but be 
acceptable to me! 


Enough: you tell of the Torre de las Danas and at once my at- 
tention was caught, and though I have promised myself not even 
to consider any travel plans before the termination of certain 
labors, yet I threw myself with delight over into something 
beyond what comes next, in the generosity of which a fulfillment 
of that sort might take place. "Spring 1923" I wrote as the date 
over my future Granada, otherwise I could scarcely have en- 
dured reading your descriptions. So, I shall then place myself 
very much in your counsel and under your protection, in order to 
penetrate there into the "most inaccessible"! HOIV you must have 
lived and taken in all that! 

Of the Schack versions I have not the best memory; (in any 
case I have never opened them again since my student days). If 
I leave out of consideration the West-East Divan (which abso- 
lutely lifted the happiness of Oriental discoveries over into the 
German), my first idea of the Arabian poem is based on those 
verses which Mardrus copiously inserted into his text of the 
Arabian Nights. Rodin came over to me sometimes, with the 
opened book, for the sake of four or six such lines, to let me par- 
ticipate right away in their just having flowered for him; what 
radiance, blossom or eye or mouth . . . each single poem, no 
longer than a medical prescription! When later in Tunis and 
Egypt, I made such rapid progress in the reading of Arabic, alas, 
seemed to make . . . , then there sprang up in me the hope of 
perhaps one day contributing something of my own to the com- 
prehension and transshaping of such verses . . . 

Moreover at that time I had the same experience that you in- 
dicate; on the trip back from Egypt, entering my so beloved 
"Museo" at Naples : nothing stood up against the pictures by 
which my memory had been not alone filled, but also broadened in 
all its dimensions. That magnificent queen. I cannot prevail upon 
myself to enclose the photographs right off again today; it seems 
certain to me that I may keep them a few weeks. If not, you 
will call them back, won't you! What a moment of windlessness 
was that in the great Egyptian period! What god held his breath, 
for the people around the fourth Amenophis thus to come to 


themselves? Whence, suddenly, did they originate? And how, 
right behind them, did time close again which had granted room 
for someone "to be", had "left space for it"?! 

Enough! the page dictates it. Warm and grateful remem- 
brances . . . 

To Gertrud Ouckama Knoop Chateau de Muzot s/Sierre, 

Valais, Switzerland 
February 7, 1922 

In a few days of spontaneous emotion, when I actually intended 
to take up some other work, these sonnets were given to me. 

You will understand at first glance why it is that you must be 
the first to possess them. For, undefined as the relation is (only 
a single sonnet, the next to last, XXIVth, calls Vera's own figure 
in to this excitation dedicated to her) , it dominates and moves the 
course of the whole and penetrated more and more although so 
secretly that I recognized it only gradually this irresistible crea- 
tion that so staggered me. 

Take them kindly into your hallowed memories. 

Were one to let "the Sonnets to Orpheus" reach the public, 
probably two or three, which, as I now already see, presumably 
just served the current as conduits (as for example the XXIst) 
and remained empty after its passage, would be replaced by 
others. Then we should also discuss in what form you want the 
name to stand (in the subtitle) . In my first draft here too, until 
your closer agreement, I have just: V.O.K. 


To Princess Marie von Thurn 

und Taxis-Hohenhhe Chateau de Muzot sur Sierre 

(Valais) Switzerland 
February u [1922], evening 
At last, 


at last, the blessed, how blessed day when as far as I can see 
I can announce to you 

the end 
of the Elegies: 


From the last, the big one (to the opening, begun once upon a 
time in Duino: "Someday, emerging at last from this terrifying 
vision/may I burst into jubilant praise to assenting angels . . .") 
from this last one, which was also meant, even then, to be the 
last, from this my hand is still trembling! Just now, Saturday, 
the eleventh, at six o'clock in the evening, it is finished! 

All in a few days, it was a nameless storm, a hurricane in the 
spirit (like that time at Duino), all that was fiber in me and fabric 
cracked eating was not to be thought of, God knows who fed 

But now it is. Is. Is, 


So I have survived up to this, right through everything. Through 
everything. And just this was what was needed. Only this. 

One, I have dedicated to Kassner. The whole is yours, Princess, 
how could it help being! Will be called: 

The Duino Elegies 

In the book (for I cannot give you what has belonged to you from 
the beginning) there will be no dedication, I think, but rather: 

The property of . . . 

And now, thanks for your letter and all its communications; I 
was anxiously awaiting it. 

Of me, only this today, don't you think? ... It is indeed, at 
last, "something"! 

Farewell, dearest Princess. 



Just now, a kind letter from Princess Ottingen. Please, com- 
mend me to her. I shall write soon. All my best to the Prince, 
Kassner, etc. 

P.S. Please, dear Princess, do not consider it a subterfuge of 
my laziness when I tell you why I am not copying down and send- 
ing you the new elegies now: I would be jealous of your reading 
them. I feel as if it should be /, absolutely, who first reads them 
to you. When? Well, let us hope, soon. D.S. 

C i8i ] 

To Lou Andreas-Salome Chateau de Muzot sur Sierre 

(Valais), Switzerland 
February n [1922] (evening) 

Lou, dear Lou, so now: 

at this moment, this, Saturday, the eleventh of February, at 6, 
I am laying aside my pen after the last completed Elegy, the 
tenth. The one (even then it was destined to become the last) to 
the beginning already written in Duino: "Someday, emerging at 
last from this terrifying vision/may I burst into jubilant praise to 
assenting angels . . ." As much as there was of it I read to you, 
but only just the first twelve lines have remained, all the rest is 
new and: yes, very, very, very glorious! Think! I have been 
allowed to survive up to this. Through everything. Miracle. 
Grace. All in a few days. It was a hurricane, as at Duino that 
time: all that was fiber, fabric in me, framework, cracked and 
bent. Eating was not to be thought of. 

And imagine, something more, in another context, just pre- 
viously (in the "Sonnets to Orpheus", twenty-five sonnets, writ- 
ten, suddenly, in the fore-storm, as a memorial for Vera Knoop) 

I wrote, made, the horse, you know, the free happy white horse 
with the hobble on its foot that once, at the approach of evening, 
came galloping toward us on a Volga meadow : 


I made him as an "ex voto" for Orpheus! What is time? When 
is present? Across so many years he sprang, with his utter hap- 
piness, into my wide-open feeling. 

So it was, one after the other. 

Now I know myself again. It really had been like a mutilation 
of my heart that the Elegies were not here. 

They are, they are. 

I went out and stroked, as if it were a great old beast, the little 
Muzot that had sheltered all this for me, that had, at last, vouch- 
safed it to me. 

That is why I did not write in answer to your letter, because 
all the time in these weeks, without knowing toward what, I was 
keeping silent toward this, with heart taken farther and farther 
inward. And now, today, dear Lou, only this. You had to learn 
of it at once. And your husband too. And Baba , and the whole 
house even down into the good old sandals! 

Your old Rainer 

P.S. Dear Lou, my little pages, these two, breathlessly written 
last night couldn't go off, registered, today (Sunday), so I took 
advantage of the time to copy off for you three of the com- 
pleted Elegies (the sixth, eighth and tenth). The other three I 
shall then write in the course of days, and send them soon. To me 
it will be so good when you have them. And besides it puts my 
mind at ease if they exist somewhere else too, outside, in accurate 
copies, safely preserved. 

But now I must for a moment into the air, as long as there is 
still Sunday sun in it. 


To Lou Andreas-Salome Chateau de Muzot sur Sierre 

(Valais), Switzerland 
Sunday [February 20, 1922] 

That you are there, dear, dear Lou! to confirm it so joyously 
into my innermost heart! In reading your good, knowing let- 
ter: how it came over me once again, this certainty from all sides, 
that now it is here, HERE, that which had arisen so long ago, as 
if it had always been! 

I had in mind to copy off the other three elegies for you today 
since it has already got round to Sunday again! But now, just 
think, in a radiant after-storm, another elegy has been added, that 
of the "Saltimbanques", It rounds out the whole most wonder- 
fully, only now does the cycle of Elegies seem to me really 
closed. It is not added on as the eleventh, but will be inserted (as 
fifth) before the "Hero-Elegy". Besides, the piece that has hitherto 
stood there seemed to me, through its different sort of structure, 
to be unjustified at that place, though as a poem beautiful. This 
will replace it (and how!), and the supplanted poem will come 
under the heading of "Fragmentary Pieces" which, as a second 
part of the book of Elegies, will contain all that is contempo- 
raneous with them, what time, so to speak, demolished before it 
was brought forth or has so cut off in its development that it dis- 
plays broken surfaces. And so now the "Saltimbanques" too are 
here which actually, even from the very first Paris time, concerned 
me so absolutely and have ever since been a task to me. 

But not enough with that, scarcely was this elegy on paper be- 
fore the "Sonnets to Orpheus" continued too; today I am ar- 
ranging this new group (as their second part) and have also 
quickly copied off (kept! ) for you a few that seem to me the 
most beautiful. All out of these days and still quite warm. Only 
our Russian white horse (how he greets you, Lou!) is from the 
earlier first part, from the beginning of this month. 

And with that, finis, for today. I must catch up on letters several 
of which have accumulated for answering. 

2 94 

I well know that there can be a "reaction" , after being 
thrown like this, the falling somewhere; but I am after all falling 
into the spring which is already nearer here, and then: since I 
was permitted the patience, the long patience, for what has now 
been reached , why shouldn't I be able to manage a little side- 
patience through baddish days; and finally, gratitude (of which 
I never had so much) should outweigh in them too everything 
depressing and confusing! 

Thanks for having written me at once in spite of all your work! 

Your old Rainer 
Elegies 5, 7, 9 : soon! 

n '83 n 

To Xaver von Moos Chateau de Muzot sur Sierre/Valais 

March 2, 1922 

... As regards the mountains, yes, you are right in being sur- 
prised to see me established among them rather than in one of 
the plains that are inherently more congenial to me; mountains 
are in fact contrary to my nature, their great conception I 
formed for myself late, actually only in the presence of the Tel- 
Atlas at the rim of the desert : for me the first mountain range 
that, in its order and sublimity, I "saw into". The Pyrenees also, 
to be sure, had already been a preliminary step for my insight , 
and through them precisely, through Provence and through Spain 
(countries that have been of great influence on the works just 
now occupying me) I somehow made the connection again with 
the wonderful features of the Wallis. It is not its mountains that 
convince me, but rather the remarkable circumstance that 
(whether through their configuration or perhaps their special dis- 
tribution) they are space-creating: as a Rodin sculpture carries 
within it and sheds about itself a peculiar spaciousness: that is 
how to my eye the mountains and hills in these regions of the 
Valais comport themselves; space emanates from and between 
them inexhaustibly, so that this valleyland of the Rhone is any- 
thing but confined , so utterly different from those valleys in 

___ _ 295 

Graubunden (for example, often so picturesque, but so confining 
to the emotions). One of my friends with whom, on a par- 
ticularly broad radiant afternoon in the fall, I strolled toward 
Loeche-Ville, doubtless meant this, this creativity in space, when 
looking back he cried out: a sort de la creation; at all events: 
as I experience it, the Wallis seems to me not only one of the most 
glorious landscapes I have ever seen, but also capable in gran- 
diose fashion of offering manifold equivalents and correspond- 
ences to the expression of our inner world; its never having be- 
come the matter for a great painter's unfolding , actually it has 
not summoned a poet either in our sense to deeper perception: 
at most one might think of young Louis de Courten, but he is one 
of those who were interrupted by an early violent death without 
the presentiment of such a fate having, beyond their years, es- 
sentially enhanced and concentrated their achievement. . . . 

To Rudolf Bodldnder Chateau de Muzot sur Sierre, Valais 

March 13, 1922 

. . . First of all, let me say that I am not to blame for the 
lateness of this answer. I received your letter yesterday, Sunday, 
March 1 2, exactly a month after it was written. The Inscl-Verlag, 
that is, forwards mail arriving for me at its address only in occa- 
sional batches and this time had no need to hurry as I was known 
to be in work and hence averse to all correspondence in general. 
If, accordingly, I cannot blame them, the most poignant reproach 
would come up in me against myself were I now to let anything 
stand in the way of the answer you have been awaiting for 
weeks , and to postpone which would also be unnatural to me 
just because what you write interests me down to the very heart. 

Now it is of course another matter whether I might be capable 
of finding in an after all short letter an answer that will not leave 
your expectation empty. Also whether such few (and in part 
counseling) words can really reach you, friend and brother, de- 

pends above all upon the passableness and safety of the bridge 
laid down between us. Now concerning this bridge, I really think 
I may rely on its full bearing capacity, for the moving words of 
relation you wrote me are so full of proof and evidence, your 
familiarity with my works becomes so purely manifest in them, 
that I think even a letter page, rapid and fragmentary as it is, 
could not but be received with a certain precision into the con- 
texts you have experienced and prepared. So I will try, with most 
understanding attention, to speak to you, my friend, concerning 
the conflict you indicate rather than actually set forth. But I 
grasp it, I believe, at its center. You call it the discord between 
"spiritual and worldly duty". 

When I now think of myself in my youth, it was for me ab- 
solutely a case of having to go away at the risk of annoying and 
hurting. I cannot describe to you our Austrian circumstances of 
the time which (if one counts in the disastrous falsity and be- 
wilderment of the eighties besides) must have been so hopeless 
and defunct in themselves that my instinct told me it was ut- 
terly impossible, starting from them, for even the most striving 
strength to grow into, grow out into what life apparently in- 
tended for me. Add to this that in the midst of these impos- 
sibilities (where almost everything that can be purely experienced 
seemed barred by subterfuge and prejudice) I was from my tenth 
year committed to a definite career (that of an Austrian of- 
ficer) ; small as I was, placed on a slippery life track on which 
every movement caused me to slide ever farther and faster away 
from that which corresponded to my as yet inarticulate bent and 
its obscure purposes , then you will understand that only by the 
most antagonistic, rebellious deviation was I able to take posses- 
sion of my blood and spirit. 

What I write as an artist will probably to the end exhibit some- 
where the traces of the opposition by means of which I set my- 
self upon my own course, and yet, if you ask me, I would not 
want it to be this which emanated above all from these works: not 
the challenge to any revolt and liberation, not the deserting of 
what surrounds and claims them would I wish that young people 


should deduce from these writings; but rather that they should 
bear in a new conciliatory spirit with what is given, offered, 
under certain circumstances necessary, withdrawing from it, not 
outward, but into greater depth, not so much resisting the pres- 
sure of circumstances as exploiting it, in order to become em- 
bedded through it in a more compact, deeper, more individual 
stratum of their own natures. 

If today I speak thus and hence advocate rather an acceptance, 
getting along with, and enduring (which I myself did not 
achieve) , this is not (here I am searching myself sternly) the 
laxity of an older man, but rather the times have in fact be- 
come different; between that most difficult decade of my child- 
hood and the attitude of today (even at its worst) there is a dif- 
ference scarcely to be evaluated with temporal measures; though 
the gulf between father and son even now may still be torn open 
anew every day, certain understandings have become possible 
across it, indeed so normal that one no longer counts them. And 
this above all: the young person himself is far from being left 
alone and forsaken in that sense in which we were in all crucial 
difficulties: the mere being of the same age has taken on a special 
meaning and reliability (since 1913 I have held in honor the book 
of one who died young, Henry Franck, La Danse devant 
rArche in which for the first time this experience appeared 
celebrated in the most intense rhythms) , and I believe I do not 
deceive myself in thinking that, were I young now, I would be 
living upward in richest linkings, swept along by those of my 
own age, sharing most of their enthusiasms and initiated, from my 
own mood, into their distresses. 

That "taking life heavily" with which my books are filled , 
is no heavy-heartedness, dear friend (and this "frightful" and that 
"consoling" which you, so movingly to me, have acknowledged, 
will draw ever closer together in these books until finally it will 
be one in them, their sole essential content) this taking heavily 
means nothing, does it, but a taking according to true weight, 
hence according to truth; an attempt to weigh things by the 
carat of the heart, instead of by suspicion, happiness or chance. 


No denial, is it? ! no denial; oh, on the contrary, how much in- 
finite assent and still more assent to existence! 

But now one thing more remains to be considered and said. 
You do not let me know 'what is demanded of you on the part of 
your family after final graduation, what profession, what occupa- 
tion; the, as you say, "only work", the struggle in the direction 
toward God need not necessarily suffer or wither in the course of 
an apparently different, more superficial application of one's 
powers. Do not forget that, for example, in times when manual 
work was still warm with life, almost all its rhythms and repe- 
titions were able to intensify God in those simple hearts; yes, the 
one incomparable privilege of man perhaps shows most funda- 
mentally there where he succeeds in introducing into something 
unassuming, lowly, the hidden grandeur of his inner relations. It 
has perilously increased the host of perplexities that make dif- 
ficult for us the reviewing and classifying of the present that the 
calls of art have so often been understood as calls to art. Thus 
the manifestations of artistic activity poems, pictures, sculpture 
and the floating configurations of music instead of directing 
their action into life, have called more and more coming young 
people away from it. This misunderstanding withdraws from life 
many elements pertaining to it, and the realm of art, in which 
after all only a few great individuals in the end remain justified, 
is overfilled with the misled and the fugitive. Nothing does a poem 
mean less than to arouse in the reader the potential poet . . . , 
and the completed picture says rather: see, you must not paint; 
I am already here! 

So on this, friend and brother, we should, to conclude, come to 
an exact agreement: that art does not ultimately intend to pro- 
duce more artists. It does not mean to call anyone over to it, in- 
deed, it has always been my guess that it is not concerned at all 
with any effect. But while its creations, having issued irrepressibly 
from an exhaustless source, stand there strangely quiet and sur- 
passable among things, it may be that involuntarily they become 
somehow exemplary for every human activity by reason of their 
innate disinterestedness, freedom and intensity. . . . 


T0 ". de W. Chateau de Muzot sur Sierre (Valais) Switzerland 

March 20, 1922 

Your letter, so richly communicative, gave me the most sensible 
joy from its very first lines; I might well fear that the long pause 
which had grown up over a whole winter might have spoiled the 
freedom of your tone to me. This and I thank you for it just 
as much as I credit it to the nature of our relationship was not 
the case: as for me, recently, so for you too, it was natural to 
interpret the pause as a rhythmic element in our communings 
through which they were ordered and distributed rather than in- 
terrupted. Your reacting this way gives me the cherished guaran- 
tee of the lastingness and security of our bond. Let me give 
myself over to this experience with joy. 

The sympathetic understanding of the state which makes its 
appearance after the termination of a long-sustained artistic ten- 
sion and purpose (as an at first empty freedom) must indeed 
have been possible to you by reason of your own work experi- 
ence; it does not surprise me that you could achieve and share 
so close a knowledge of it. It is a perilous state (one among the 
many perilous states of the artistically active person) , a becoming 
light the moment the wings are weary; a becoming too light. 
The upsurge of the spirit toward some surface. In former years 
that sort of thing could be unspeakably confusing to me, for the 
vacation quality of this unburdening is only one side of it; scarcely 
felt, it turns into a consciousness of having become superfluous. 
To protect myself to some extent from such rockings in the too 
light skiff, I did everything possible to hold in readiness for such 
released moments a reliable ballast that could always be at hand, 
but either because my strength was not great enough to be thus 
divisible, or because I forced my way too late and against too 
many difficulties in childhood and youth to the activities most 
my own, or because the age itself in which I took them up ad- 
vocated that kind of one-sidedness and limitation to one thing: 
I didn't succeed, despite many studies begun, in developing a 


really constant counterweight. Later I consoled myself, tant 
bien que mal, with the fact that art in any case too long a task 
for even the longest life would have suffered from such division, 
and Rodin's tremendous confirmation in the metier came to me 
just at the right time for me to implant in my innermost center 
the will to be wholly in one thing and there, forever, to justify 
it. But I did not have Rodin's metier, so helpful in this sense, nor 
any that would have been capable of standing by me, as something 
continually at hand, with such daily tangibility and security in the 
visible, also I lacked that vitality of the great master which, little 
by little, had put him in a position to meet his inspiration un- 
ceasingly with so many work projects that it could not help 
acquiescing, almost without a pause coming up, to one of those 
offered. This "accord", brought about with superiority and not 
without cunning, made the powerful artist so sure of his in- 
spiration that he might simply deny its existence and its inter- 
vention: its vibration, always accessible to him, no longer dif- 
ferentiated itself in any way from his own strength, he had it at 
his disposal as he had himself; only in the last years of his life when 
the weariness of age finally came upon him, making Rodin in- 
accurate and exploitingly greedy of what was most his own, did 
this relationship too avenge itself as every subjection of the too- 
great, of what surpasses us, of the free and unobligated divine must 
sometime avenge itself: thus he would now and then create with 
the means of inspiration, but without, indeed against inspiration 
itself . . . The endangerment of the artist simply is tremendous, 
and danger grows about him as a manifold of his greatness. 

However that may be, dear friend, as things stand today, I am 
not worried about your artistic efforts, on which I place so pure 
a value, when you inform me that you will for long periods be 
estranged from this effort so natural to you by a singularly incom- 
patible study. Even though I don't understand what path in the 
world you propose to open to yourself later through the Doctor 
of Laws degree, nevertheless it is just this complete contrast in 
your two activities which seems right to me; for the more dif- 
ferently constituted the intellectual, intentional, deliberate is by 

its nature and its practice, the more likely is it to protect the 
inspired, what rises up unpredictably, inspirited from deep within. 
(Where, on the other hand, two such activities, an artistic one and 
some other, are somehow neighbored : as journalism and liter- 
ature and so many other examples , there result the most calami- 
tous influencings that bedim and misuse the finer medium.) For 
the rest, if I were young today, I would unquestionably have 
looked about for a daily, very heterogeneous activity and have 
tried to establish myself in some palpable domain according to 
my powers. Perhaps one serves art today better and more dis- 
creetly if one makes it into an unmentioned aff air of certain days 
or years (which need not mean pursuing it on the side and in 
dilettante fashion; after all, to mention a highest example, Mal- 
larme was all his life an English teacher . . .), but the "profes- 
sion" itself is filled to overflowing with intruders, with those who 
don't belong, with exploiters of this metier gone hybrid, and its 
renewal, yes, the giving of new significance, without which this ex- 
posure that is hurrying into the sensational will shortly have be- 
come absurd, can take place only through those silent individuals 
who do not count themselves in and accept none of the practices 
to which the litterateur has given validity and currency. Now if 
such an individual be a private person or otherwise keep incon- 
spicuously behind a profession he knows, he will the more readily 
contribute his part to the correction of circumstances long ago 
become impossible, since his silence as a poet will have a certain 
significance alongside his profoundest articulation. It will not, 
for example, remain unessential for the poet to whom among the 
Frenchmen of my generation belongs my greatest and most 
marveling admiration Paul Valery that between his earliest 
publications and those glorious poems and writings with which 
he has come forward since 1919, he had the strength to interpose 
a silence of about twenty-five years. He was, if I am not mistaken, 
occupied with mathematics, and so widely and clearly oriented in 
this realm that he was capable of perceiving and expressing the 
significance of Einstein before other French scholars. 

What I thought I saw at the time of Make Laurids Brigge in 

relation to the theater that all its sprouts and shoots would have 
to be cut back for some years so that it should grow up again 
bigger and more necessary out of its most fundamental roots that 
is now my opinion and warning with regard to all the arts: they 
have grown rank, and it is not the encouraging gardner they 
need, nor the fostering, but the one with shears and spade: re- 
proving . . . 

To Rudotf Eodldnder Chateau de Muzot sur Sierre ( Valais) 

March 23, 1922 

How I would like, young friend, to write a good answer to 
your new little pages too , but here words have a hard time. 
On the whole, I think I recognize that you have taken the right 
stand in wanting to regard that struggle and go through with it 
as one intimately your own, at pains to learn what physical and 
spiritual conditions renew the conflict and at which of their in- 
tersection points it may appear. This is surely the most responsible 
attitude, only you must absolutely remove from it any incidental 
accent of reproachful and burdened endeavor. Dear friend, this 
is important: fight guilelessly. No one, nowadays, in our coun- 
tries "gets through" (as the expression goes) with this straggle , 
in each the singular urge gives rise to some group of conflicts, 
least of all has the superior bourgeois "overcome" it who admits 
so many dubious expedients, in contrast to which a deep and si- 
lent perplexity like this could not but show itself infinitely guilt- 
less. We are anyway do not forget it entirely in the province 
of guilt-lessness there. The terrifying thing is that we possess 
no religion in which these experiences, being so literal and pal- 
pable as they are (for: at the same time so inexpressible and so 
intangible), may be lifted up into the god, into the protection of 
a phallic deity who will perhaps have to be the first with which 
a troop of gods will again invade humanity, after so long an ab- 
sence. What then is to support us if religious helps fail , in that 


they hush up these experiences instead of clarifying them and 
would withdraw them from us instead of implanting them in us 
more gloriously than we dared surmise. Here we are the in- 
describably forsaken and betrayed: hence our calamity. While re- 
ligions, going out at their surfaces and depositing more and more 
burnt-out surface, died away into moralities, they shifted this 
manifestation too, the innermost of their existence and ours, on 
to the chilled ground of morality and thereby, necessarily, into 
the periphery. Little by little people will see that it is here, not 
in the social or economic realm, that our great contemporary 
calamity lies , in this expulsion of the act of love into the 
peripheral; the clear-sighted individual's strength is now exhaust- 
ing itself in moving it back again at least into his oivn center (if it 
is not already standing in the common world center, which 
would have as consequence the immediate flooding of the world's 
bloodstream with divinities!), the man who lives blindly some- 
how delights, on the contrary, in the peripheral, accessible nature 
of "enjoyment" and takes revenge (clear-sighted in spite of him- 
self) for its being worthless even there, in simultaneously craving 
and denouncing this enjoyment. Denial in the superficial is no 
advance and there is no sense in straining the "will" (which be- 
sides is too young and new a force, measured against the primeval 
rightness of the instinct) to that end. Denial of love or fulfillment 
of love, both are wonderful and peerless only where the entire 
love-experience with all its scarcely diff erentiable ecstasies (so al- 
ternating among themselves that just there spiritual and physical 
can no longer be separated) is allowed to occupy a central po- 
sition: there too then (in the rapture of a few lovers or saints of all 
times and all religions) renunciation and fulfillment become iden- 
tical. Where the infinite enters wholly in (whether as minus or 
plus) the sign, the ah so human sign, as the road that has now been 
completely traversed, drops away and what remains is the having 
arrived, the being! It is this, dear friend, more or less, that can 
(provisionally) be revealed, if one is asked, about our greatest, 
our innermost secret. I believe it must, if you read it accurately, 
shift your whole struggle onto a new unravaged plane. (And 


when sometime you love someone, read this letter together, if you 
do not already know it so well by then that you can invent its 
contents anew out of yourself! ) 

If you start thus from the center and from the striving for 
"being" (that is, for the experience of the fullest possible inner 
intensity) then your attitude toward any poetic urge that may 
spring up will also clarify itself. By no means everything must 
be suppressed there; whatever demonstrates before your gradually 
strengthening conscience its right to be shaped, to that just give 
its desired form. The page of a journal may be filled in this way, 
or a letter come into being (sendable or not, no matter) or even 
a creation that has its spontaneous home in the domain of the 
artistic. Whether a thing belongs there is proved not by the wish 
or urge to make it public or commendable (here too the evil spirit 
of the peripheral carries on its confusing game ) : rather, whether 
a thing becomes art depends on its higher rate of vibration which, 
by virtue of its nature, surpasses things of custom or expressions 
of daily intercourse, and as only a secondary consequence of 
which there appears the intention to provide for such a creation 
which exceeds the transitory and, to put it tritely, the private 
some situation in which it will endure and survive more lastingly 
and, as it were, more universally. Of "effect" there is no question 
anywhere here, not even of the actual becoming public which 
is only accidental to a phenomenon innately destined for larger 
circumstances. With such an attitude, whatever you happen to 
produce, in what profession soever, alongside it or in spite of it, 
will always have been legitimately written down, and, whether 
someone now learns or knows of it or not , every word that 
has arisen thus will help you and, beyond that, will someday say 
itself where it belongs. 

And this too, in the event that art should be preparing in 
you, beneath the double floor that your profession will install and 
fix in your life remember that it was possible for the most sub- 
lime, most "compact" poet of our time, Stephane Mallarme, to 
pass his bourgeois existence as an English teacher. . . . 

And so: wishes, dear friend, for confidence and joy. 


Bhimenthal-Weiss Chateau de Muzot sur Sierre 

April 25, 1922 

. . . The "Fioretti of Saint Francis" are old friendships for 
my heart, at least in their original text. Years ago, during a whole 
south Italian winter, I gathered my housemates every morning 
about my reading aloud of these little and lovely legends; they 
would always listen to one chapter, that sufficed to set us quite 
distinctively into the day, which each then utilized or squandered 
in his own fashion. 

And as regards Beer-Hofmann's "Lullaby for Miriam", this 
too, as you mention it now, brings up to me special memories; 
I have known it practically from its birth. At that time (around 
1902) it was the only poem Beer-Hofmann had ever written ; 
later, in the wonderful rarity and discrimination of his work, an- 
other, similarly full, second poem was added , I couldn't say 
whether the number of these exquisite things has meantime in- 
creased. If I admired the "Lullaby" extremely from first acquaint- 
ance (when it gloriously appeared in the pages of the "Pan" of 
that time), I was able (I knew it by heart) to win for it in later 
years too unqualified admirers. When I lived for six months in 
Sweden, it went so far that people from other estates would send 
their carriages for me to our estate, as one sends for a doctor, 
solely that I might recite the verses to people otherwise strangers 
who had heard of the extraordinary beauty of this poem : a re- 
quest to which I acceded each time deeply moved and with all the 
joy of my own admiration! 

Here I might link up with still another theme touched upon in 
your letter before last: that of the destiny of the Jew. Beer- 
Hofmann (while so many Jewish people seem to represent this 
hard destiny only in its splits and evasive twists) was to me always 
an example of its greatness and dignity, of which even in the long 
and afflicted exile nothing essential had to be surrendered. You 
know from one of my earlier letters (the one about "faith") how 
very favored the Jew together with the Arab and the orthodox 


Russian, to point no farther into the Orient seems to me by his 
innate unity of nationality and religion, which insures him an 
over and over again manifest head-start.* That he had lost the 
ground beneath him and had to maintain himself on a bit of bor- 
rowed earth has its good and its bad aspects; apart from a few 
great exceptions, he has had to misuse his advantages in order to 
survive in the contested and f oundationless, he has for the most 
part misused himself and others. With a cunning to which self- 
preservation trained him, he transformed his being nowhere at- 
tached from a misfortune into a superiority, and where he hap- 
pens to misuse this dearly bought superiority pettily, greedily and 
inimically, where involuntarily he revenges himself, there he 
has become noxious, an intruder, a disintegrator. But where the 
same process, the same survival wrung from destiny has been 
consummated in a person grandly determined, there, out of the 
same inexorabilities, has arisen that glory of which Spinoza would 
be a famous example. The mobile and transplantable character 
of the inner center, its independence (but at the same time root- 
lessness, unless consciousness leads downward to the root in 
God) the truly transportable spirit came into the world through 
the destiny of the Jew: an unheard-of danger and an unheard-of 
freedom of movement. And according as one stresses one side or 
the other of this Jewish resource, one will have to fear or extol it; 
with all of which the fact remains that what has been effected 
through it is ultimately indispensable to all of us, not to be thought 
away and not to be wished away. Perhaps this ferment, when it has 
acted long enough, must be again withdrawn and collected in the 
vessel most its own. The Zionist consciousness stemming from 
a purely Jewish impulse would be a beginning for this presumably 
imperative separating out. This reacquisition of the ancient soil 
once theirs, this new rootedness, must then be conceived and in- 
interpreted literally as well as symbolically. If, as is probable, we 
have known the Jewish people only in its distortions, in its per- 
plexity, in its deflected and sometimes oblique obstinacy, and if 
we gauge its vigor by its survival, we are at first frightened at im- 
agining the strength it would bring forth were it established, 


sanctioned, favored! The growth of these people so fruitful 
even in their uprootedness would then attain an unrestrainable 
fruitfulness in God , the continuation of that history of pas- 
sionate and weighty harvests which the Old Testament, wherever 
we open it, makes for us an event, a climate. . . . 

To Lotti von Wedel Chateau de Muzot sur 

May 26, 1922 

. . . how should I not be disposed by your letter and its two 
enclosures to the quickest joyfullest thanks! 

I knew in what good hands I placed my request, and so it doesn't 
surprise me so very much to see it fulfilled by your father in so 
favorable a manner; only I am thereby just becoming aware of 
how presumptuous my demand may have been. 

Concerning the magnificent queen, it moves me in a singular 
way that her picture came back to me and is to belong to me. 
It belongs in fact as you rightly say to those most autonomous 
things in our daily environment which one may quite disregard, 
only to be suddenly surprised and overtaken, when unexpectedly 
sometime the "ignition" comes on, by the undiminished, even re- 
newed intensity of their presence! So the double portrait again 
assumes its accustomed place, leaning against the wall on a beau- 
tiful old chest . . . 

Yes, in view of the late coming of the spring, it wouldn't be 
so very regrettable that your spring trip to Santa Margherita 
did not take place, but that now, by the same physical failing, 
you should be hindered from receiving as it deserved the spring 
that has come, has caught up with itself with so much strength: 
to me too that seems altogether unjust. Utterly so, since it is a ques- 
tion of the Heidelberg spring. A Swedish and a Russian friend, 
both of whom had studied at Heidelberg and then, after about a 
decade, both married, had met again years ago at a dinner I 
heard them exchanging their student memories, rather, one should 


say, rousing and inciting each other to such memories . . . Time 
after time I, the listener, who do not know Heidelberg, had to 
ask myself whether it were really conceivable that a German city 
was in question, its gardens, its hill-paths, even its skies: what was 
evoked there had such scenic lavishness, such fullness and south- 
ernness, such boundless atmospheric scope, that I might have in- 
ferred southern France at least. And now you yourself use out- 
right the word "intoxicating"! 

A thinking destiny, one cognizant of us ... yes, often one 
has wished to be strengthened and confirmed by such a one; but 
would it not at once be one that contemplated us from without, 
observing us, with which we would no longer be alone? That we 
are set into a "blind destiny", dwell within it, is after all in a way 
the condition of our own sight, of our gazing innocence. Only 
through the "blindness" of our fate are we really deeply related 
to the wonderful muffledness of the world, that is with what is 
whole, vast and surpassing us ... 

Yesterday I read a book, the story of a childhood, which seemed 
extraordinarily beautiful to me. Is there not in its pages the quality 
that makes Jung-Stilling's childhood so moving, taken up again 
about a century later, with all the increase in associations possible 
since then and the inclusion in the "muffled" that has become at 
once more manifold and everywhere more binding? 

When the "Queen" came back, I looked about among my 
things for a suitable counter-gift; allow me, dear lady, to use as 
such this timely little book by a person I have long esteemed, and 
to put it in your hands, particularly for these days of a con- 
valescence that is coming to an understanding with the spring. 
And may you recover quickly enough still to have some happy 
share in the blossoming and growing of your tangible surround- 


T0 D0ry von der Muhll Chateau de Muzot 

June 23, 1922 

... It was a deep emotion for me, experiencing the reception 
that Princess Taxis gave the Elegies! One day I read her all ten, 
next day, the fifty Sonnets to Orpheus, of whose inner unity and 
of whose connection with the Elegies, which they gloriously 
parallel, I have just become sensible through this listening. Both 
works were actually given me as if they were not mine (because 
anyhow, by their nature, they are more than "by me") , the 
Princess was amazed and I, if I may be quite truthful, yes, I was 
amazed along with her, tout simplement, with my purest, most 
profound astonishment. . . . 

To E.M. Chateau de Muzot sur Sierre, Valais (Switzerland) 

September 13, 1922 

The mere sight, my good and valued friend, of your writing, 
before I had even read it, made me fear that some heaviness had 
taken possession of you , and now it proves to be the greatest 
heaviness that has come out of the greatest glory: can something 
so heavy come from something so purely blissful? For you your- 
self still know even now hoiv this thing, but just now blissful, re- 
leased you, freed you, gave you wings. Until when? And why 
no longer? 

There are two readings of your letter: Yesterday my guess 
was that (perhaps reciprocally) you had too long exposed each 
other to the strongest radiation of your great emotion, so long 
that the same ray that had just called forth growth and fullness 
became too much and began to destroy: for which you then in- 
voluntarily had to avenge yourself. 

Today I understand it differently: As though you, from this 
experience in which you still stand and are struggling, should 
consider yourself a person who, as a lover (the courting over), 

seems to himself sentenced in consequence of inner fatalities to 
use the means and tools of hatred, just as involuntarily as he would 
instruments for a deeper, more enigmatical enjoyment . . . This 
discovery might of course be infinitely painful and confusing 
to you, but horrify you it must not: it would merely mean tak- 
ing up the battle with what is unresolved and erroneous in your 
innermost nature, and who knows how far you would be 
equipped for that very battle by those changes and gains which 
the affection and devotion of this person opened up and made 
possible to you at certain periods of your relationship. If you are 
now afraid of yourself as you grow aware of the way your nature 
is becoming unbridled and frightening through contact with her, 
now she is won, and a torment to her , then to offset that, try 
to realize that a having-won and possessing of a person, in such a 
way as to use that person for one's own (often so fatally con- 
ditioned) enjoyment, yes: that there is not, may not, can not be 
such a thing as the using of a person, and you will see that dis- 
tance and reverence again establishing itself which will make you 
measure your excitement anew with those measures that were 
yours during courtship. It often occurs that a happiness such as 
that which you, loved and loving, have experienced not only frees 
new powers in a young man, but also uncovers quite other, deeper 
layers of his nature, out of which most sinister discoveries break 
through overwhelmingly: but our disorders have ever been a 
part of our riches, and where we are horrified at their violence, we 
are really frightened only at unsuspected possibilities and tensions 
of our strength , and the chaos, if we win but a little distance 
from it, promptly arouses in us the presentiment of new orders 
and, as soon as our courage willingly participates even to the 
slightest extent in such presentiments, also the curiosity and the 
desire to achieve that still unforeseeable future ordering! 

I have written the word "distance"; if there is anything like 
a counsel I find myself qualified to suggest to you, it would be 
the conjecture that you should endeavor to seek this, this distance; 
both from your present consternation and from those new dis- 
positions and enlargements of your spirit which you indeed en- 

joyed at the time they took place, but have not as yet taken es- 
sentially into your possession at all. A short separation, parting 
for a few weeks, a beginning of yourself, a new concentrating 
of your overfilled and unstrung nature would offer the greatest 
likelihood of salvaging all that seems to be destroying itself in 
and through itself. Whether now I am right in my first reading 
or come closer with the second to the reality of your suffering and 
that which you inflict, or whether something else entirely should 
have been understood from your few lines: this single counsel 
could in no event be wrong. Nothing keeps people so fast in 
error as the daily repetition of that error , and how many bound 
to one another in a destiny finally gone rigid might have been 
able by short, clean separations to ensure to themselves that 
rhythm through which the mysterious mobility of their hearts 
would, in deep proximity to inner world-space, have remained 
inexhaustible from change to change. 

This would be all, this little, with which I may have been able 
to reciprocate your trust. May you soon feel more confident. 


P.S. Although your card just this moment arrived recalls and 
in a sense takes back the letter that preceded it, nevertheless I do 
not want to retract mine either for that reason. All the better if 
you have yourself already found and begun what it attempts to 
say to you: the clear courageous tone of your card permits me 
to suppose something of the sort. 

C '9' 3 

To Use Jahr Chateau dc Muzot sur Sierre (Valais), Switzerland 

December 2, 1922 

You dear creature, 

A little miracle that your letter finally reached me, for more 
than twenty years I have not lived at the place to which it was 
directed. But now, you should know, I delight in its clear voice. 
How could it be too trivial to me, since every creaking of the 
floor goes to my heart. You do feel it: My world begins with 

things , and hence in it even the least human being is already 
frighteningly big, yes, almost an excess. You are not so small 
either, you feeling young girl. You should know besides that I 
never read what "they" write about my works in newspapers or 
periodicals, or even in books smacking of "science"; I notice 
nothing of all that, and so every real human voice finds most ample 
room in my spirit. But now already I direct you further, out be- 
yond me, to the figure I am building for myself, outside, more 
validly and more lastingly. Hold on to that, if it seems big and 
significant to you. Who knows who I am? I change and change. 
But it is the boundary of my transformation, its pure rim: if it 
radiates love to you, deeply, good: then let us both believe in it. 

Rainer Maria Rilke 

To Witold von Hulewicz Chateau de Muzot sur Sierre (Suisse) 

December 14, 1922 

. . . For a real and valid estimate of Rodin and his work, what 
I wrote twenty years ago (the first part of the book does go back 
that far and the other lies not much nearer) will not be a very 
essential contribution; apart from my all too youthful attitude, 
I lacked distance, and the whole nature of my proximity to the 
master was one-sided, completely determined by whatever it 
was necessary and helpful for me to learn from him. Were I to 
write today of that great work and its author, admiration the 
wish and the compulsion to admire would certainly still be the 
measure and means of my conception; but hoiv much harder 
would it not be for this admiration today in view of the calamities 
by which (seen from a greater remove) Rodin's own existence and 
his rebellious achievement was besieged and finally overpow- 
ered. But what in my eyes assures to those notes of mine even 
now a kind of justification is, as you correctly recognized their 
human devotion to the great example, their conviction that pro- 
ducing art is a most simple and most stern calling, but at the same 
time a destiny, and, as such, greater than any of us, more powerful 


and to the very end immeasurable. And for your wanting to win 
in your homeland readers and friends for this conviction, for that 
I thank you most heartily. . . . 

To Prince Hohenlohe Chateau de Muzot sur Sierre, Valais 

December 23, 1922 

. . . Proust, you mention Proust: It pleases me immensely 
that you have found relish and interest in his work. By a chance, of 
which I shall tell you sometime, I was one of the first (1913!) to 
read "Du cote de chez Swann", and hence also one of the first to 
admire Marcel Proust, which was the natural, immediate conse- 
quence of that reading. On the occasion of his death recently, 
Andre Gide reminded me of the fact that I have my place among 
the earliest admirers of this great writer, and now you can 
imagine how I had gone along with him in the same state of mind 
from volume to volume and how strongly the death of this sig- 
nificant man affected me. It is simply not yet possible to foresee 
all that has been opened to us and those to come with these books, 
they are crammed so full of a wealth of discovery, and the strangest 
thing is the use, already so natural and in its way quiet, of the 
boldest and often most unheard-of; anyone else would have been 
able to risk such lines of connection from event to event only 
as auxiliary lines, but in Proust they also at once acquire the 
beauty of the ornamental, and they retain, even as design, validity 
and permanence. While by some intuitive stroke he dares the 
most remarkable connection, it seems again as though he were 
merely following the existing veins in a polished piece of marble, 
and then one is surprised all over again at the perfect tact of his 
interpretation, clinging nowhere, which, playing, lets go again 
what it just seemed to be holding to and which, with scarcely 
surpassable nicety, everywhere admits and leaves free that which 
is sheerly incalculable. In his cork-slab lined (almost bare) 
room which he left only now and then at night, this strange 
soothsayer must have seen life continually open before him like a 

3*4 _ 

gigantic hand whose lines he so essentially understood that they 
could not give him any more surprises , only, day by day, end- 
less tasks! How one must love work, once one has got that 
far! . . . 

To Countess Mar got Sizzo Chateau de Muzot sur Sierre 

Epiphany [January 6] 1923 

. . . "Woe to them that are consoled", the courageous Marie 
Leneru notes something of the sort in her strange "Journal", and 
here indeed consolation would be one of the many diversions, a 
distraction, hence at bottom something frivolous and unfruitful. 
For even time does not "console", as one superficially says, at 
most it arranges, sets in order , and only because we later so little 
heed the order toward which it so quietly collaborates, yes, so 
little consider it, that what has now become established and 
assuaged, reconciled in the great whole, we take, instead of mar- 
veling at it there, for some f orgetfulness of our own and weakness 
of heart, only because it no longer hurts so much. Ah, how little 
it forgets, the heart, and how strong it would be if we did not 
withdraw its tasks from it before they are fully and really ac- 
complished! Not the wanting to console oneself for such a loss 
should be our instinct, rather it should become our deep painful 
curiosity wholly to explore it, the singularity, the uniqueness of 
this particular loss, to learn its effect within our life, yes, we should 
cultivate the noble avarice of enriching our inner world by this 
very loss, its meaning and its weight. . . . Such a loss, the more 
deeply it touches us and the more violently it affects us, is so much 
the more a task of taking into our possession afresh, differently 
and finally, what now in the being lost is stressed with hopeless- 
ness: this then is unending accomplishment that overcomes on 
the spot everything negative that adheres to pain, all inertia and 
indulgence that always constitutes a part of pain, this is active, 
inward-working pain, the only pain that makes sense and is 
worthy of us. I do not like the Christian conceptions of a Be- 

yond, I am getting farther and farther away from them, naturally 
without thought of attacking them; they may have their right and 
persistence beside so many other hypotheses about the periphery 
of the divine, but to me they contain above all the danger not 
only of making those who have vanished more imprecise to us and 
above all more inaccessible ; but we too, drawing ourselves yon- 
der in our longing and away from here, we ourselves become 
thereby less definite, less earthly: which for the present, so long 
as we are here and akin to tree, flower and soil, we do have, in a 
purest sense, to remain, even still to become! As concerns myself, 
what has died for me has died, so to speak, into my own heart: 
the vanished person, when I have looked for him, has collected 
himself singularly and so surprisingly in me, and it was moving to 
feel that for us he was now only there, that my enthusiasm for 
serving his existence there, for deepening and glorifying it, took 
the upper hand almost at the very moment in which pain would 
otherwise have invaded and laid waste the entire landscape of my 
spirit. When I remember how often with extremest difficulty 
in understanding and accepting one another I loved my father! 
Often, in childhood, my thoughts would become confused, and 
my heart would grow numb at the mere idea that sometime he 
might no longer be; my existence seemed to me so wholly con- 
ditioned through him (my from the outset so differently oriented 
existence! ) that to my innermost self his departure was synony- 
mous with my own doom . . . , but so deep is death implanted in 
the nature of love that (if only we are cognizant of it without 
allowing ourselves to be misled by the uglinesses and suspicions we 
attached to it) it nowhere contradicts love: whither after all can 
it drive someone we have borne unutterably in our heart save 
into this very heart, where would the "idea" of this loved person 
be, indeed his ceaseless influence (for how could that cease which 
even while he lived with us was more and more independent of 
his tangible presence) . . . where would this always secret in- 
fluence be held more secure than in us? Where can we come 
closer to it, where more purely celebrate it, when obey it better, 
than when it appears linked with our own voices, as if our heart 

had learned a new language, a new song, a new strength. I re- 
proach all modern religions for having handed to their believers 
consolations and glossings over of death, instead of administering 
to them the means of reconciling themselves to it and coming to an 
understanding with it. With it, with its full, unmasked cruelty: 
this cruelty is so tremendous that it is just with it that the circle 
closes: it leads right back again into the extreme of a mildness 
that is great, pure and perfectly clear (all consolation is turbid) 
as we have never surmised mildness to be, not even on the sweetest 
spring day. But toward the experiencing of this most profound 
mildness which, were only a few of us to feel it with conviction, 
could perhaps little by little penetrate and make transparent all 
the relations of life: toward the experiencing of Ms richest and 
soundest mildness, mankind has never taken even the first steps, 
unless in its oldest, most innocent times, whose secret has been 
all but lost to us. The content of "initiations" was, I am sure, 
nothing but the imparting of a "key" that permitted the reading 
of the word "death" 'without negation; like the moon, life surely 
has a side permanently turned away from us which is not its 
counter-part but its complement toward perfection, toward con- 
summation, toward the really sound and full sphere and orb of 

One should not fear that our strength might not suffice to bear 
any experience of death, even were it the nearest and the most ter- 
rible; death is not beyond our strength; it is the measure mark at 
the vessel's rim: we are full as often as we reach it , and being 
full means (for us) being heavy . . . that is all. I will not say 
that one should love death; but one should love life so magnani- 
mously, so without calculation and selection that spontaneously 
one constantly includes with it and loves death too (life's averted 
half) , which is in fact what happens also, irresistibly and illimit- 
ably, in all great impulses of love! Only because we exclude death 
in a sudden moment of reflection, has it turned more and more 
into something alien, and as we have kept it in the alien, some- 
thing hostile. 

It is conceivable that it stands infinitely closer to us than our 

effort [would allow] (this has grown ever clearer to me with the 
years, and my work has perhaps only the one meaning and mis- 
sion to bear witness, more and more impartially and independ- 
ently . . . more prophetically perhaps, if that does not sound 
too arrogant ... to this insight which so often unexpectedly 
overwhelms me) . . . our effort, I mean, can only go toward 
postulating the unity of life and death, so that it may gradually 
prove itself to us. Prejudiced as we are against death, we do not 
manage to release it from its misrepresentations . . . only be- 
lieve, dear, dear Countess, that it is a friend, our deepest friend, 
perhaps the only one who is never, never, to be misled through 
our behavior and vacillation . . . and that, it is understood, not 
in the sentimental-romantic sense of denying life, of life's opposite, 
but our friend just when we most passionately, most vehemently 
assent ... to being-here, to functioning, to Nature, to love. 
Life always says simultaneously Yes and No. Indeed, death (I 
adjure you to believe! ) is the true yea-sayer. It says only: Yes. 
Before eternity. 

Think of the "Slumbering Tree". Yes, how good that it occurs 
to me. Think of all the little pictures and inscriptions to it, 
how, in youthful innocent trust, you there constantly recognized 
and affirmed both in the world: the sleeping and the waking, the 
bright and the dark, the voice and the silence . . . , la presence 
et 1'absence. All the apparent opposites which somewhere come 
together in one point, which at one place sing the hymn of their 
wedding and this place is for the time being our heart! 


To Lou Andreas-Salome Chateau de Muzot sur Sierre (Valais), 

January 13, 1923 

. . . today must be the Russian New Year! But even the other 
day, on the western New Year's morning, and between Christmas 
Eve and it, I was often with you in thought: at that time I still 
thought, if I put off writing a little, I could lay the Elegies and 


the Sonnets right in with the next letter: I was far off in my cal- 
culations: on the last day of the year there appeared, instead of 
the first copies, one more Elegy-revision, still fairly faulty, which 
I could then spread out for myself exactly over the threshold of 
the year. In the dying note of midnight and in the first stillness 
of 1923, I was just in the midst of correcting and reading the 
fifth Elegy! I rejoice that I was allowed to begin thus (if a division 
is to be granted at all). And you? I am often greatly concerned, 
dear Lou, about you, about all of you, when I hear and picture 
how everything in Germany has become more and more absurd 
and living and living costs practically impossible. It seems and 
that was my impression in 1919 , that the only right moment, 
when everything could have paved the way for understanding, 
has been missed on all sides, now the divergences are increasing, 
the sums of the mistakes can no longer be read off, so many- 
digited have they become; perplexity, despair, insincerity and the 
opportune wish to draw some profit at any cost out of even these 
calamities, even yet out of them: these false forces are shoving 
the world ahead of them . . . 

But perhaps the world isn't going along, perhaps nothing is 
going on in politics, scarcely does one get, no matter where, 
into some layer beneath them, when already everything looks dif- 
ferent, and one thinks a most secret growth and its sheer will are 
using those confusions only in order to keep themselves un- 
harmed beneath and hidden from otherwise occupied curiosity. 
(In France particularly, among people not politically minded, 
in those who are inwardly active: how many turnings, renewals, 
wide vistas , what new orientating of a spirit suddenly, almost 
against its will, increasingly reflected ... I don't know whether 
you have followed Proust, his influence is tremendous , but not 
only his influence is transforming, but what emanated from him 
is emanating now from other and younger men . . .) I have the 
advantage here of being able to follow all this without much dif- 
ficulty; I translated Paul Valery and felt my resources so cor- 
responded with his great, glorious poems that I have never trans- 

lated with such sureness and insight as in this, in itself often very 
difficult case. (You know that he, P.V., a friend of Gide's, des- 
cending from Mallarme, after a few early publications kept silence 
through nearly twenty-five years, occupied with mathematics, 
only since 1919 has he been living into poetry again, and now 
every line has, added to the pace of it, that deep repose which 
none of us is able to command. A glory.) And Valery, although he 
is completely excluded from Germany by ignorance of the lan- 
guage, wrote me, when he was traveling through Switzerland in 
the fall on account of lectures: "Vous etiez Tun des objets prin- 
cipaux de mon voyage." How full of premonition and how un- 
restrainable all real connections are. And for all that, I was un- 
fortunately not able to see him for the silliest of reasons; the 
impossibility of having Austrian or German money sent out is 
making me more and more of a prisoner in the old walls of my 
Muzot, in them I have everything for a while yet, but every step 
outwards, though it be only to Lausanne, is becoming more and 
more impossible! But how could I help taking this inconvenience 
comparatively lightly when I think of the distresses that would 
beset and hem me in at a less out-of-the-way and sheltered spot. 
One may not now attach much value to freedom of movement; 
it would only bring one into touch with calamities. In the sum- 
mer I had all sorts of plans; but so many warnings at once stood 
at the border of the slightest realization that, quite the reverse, 
I left no stone unturned in order to be able to go on keeping 
myself in Muzot. Were the world less awry, a change, at the 
moment of this for me significant conclusion, would certainly 
have had sense, and it probably would also have taken place. 
But as it is, the best thing was to hold fast to the given and tried 
and to be loyal and grateful to it. Especially as my health is going 
through singular upheavals: again and again every excitement, 
even that of work (which often for weeks has not allowed me to 
eat quietly), casts itself upon that center in the pit of my stomach, 
the sympathetic nerve, the "solar plexus", there I am so truly 
annihilate, and I am going through remarkable experiences of 


the rivalries and unisons of the two centers, the cerebral and that 
more focal one which after all is supposedly our middle: as regards 
the visible as well as the invisible! 

Meanwhile: I am not worrying too much about these fluctua- 
tions attacking the central organs; at most that I should use my 
energy to "turn off" for the meal hour the intensive vibrations 
emanating from mind or mood just as I mostly succeed in doing 
with regard to sleep. That great god: Sleep; I sacrifice to him 
without any time-avarice what does time matter to him! ten 
hours, eleven, even twelve, if he wants to accept them in his lofty, 
mildly-silent way! Only unfortunately I seldom manage now to 
go to bed early; evening is my reading time. The presence of en- 
ticing books, the stillness of the old house intensified to the point 
of improbability, keep me awake for the most part past midnight. 
The little caring-for-itself of a mouse in the many never- 
discovered interstices of the deep walls further contributes then 
to increasing the mystery out of which the tremendous night of 
the countryside, eternally 'without care, nourishes itself. 

Strangely dulled I am, was so, to my astonishment, even in the 
summer , toward the countryside itself, the so deeply ex- 
perienced magnificence of which I must keep before me with an 
effort and deliberately, in order to participate in it still. Does 
the leveling of our senses really go that far under the continually 
renewed presence of the surroundings in contact with them? 
How manifoldly then must habit put us in the wrong toward 
people and things: one should console oneself with the fact that 
the curve of delight continues on in one's inner realm: but how 
follow it there where it will surely be refracted in the density of 
the medium, perhaps become unrecognizable and display emphasis 
only there where other curves, of just as lost an origin, cross it in 
the curious vortex of the intersection points. . . . 

3 21 

"C7we Amie" Chateau de Muzot-sur-Sierre (Valais) 

February 3, 1923 

So it is to "a friend" that I am permitted to reply this time . . . 
She guessed it, in reading her first letter I gave great attention 
to her handwriting not as a graphologist that I have never 
been, for I would consider it indiscreet to force a handwriting 
according to a "method" in order in the end to find there the 
tenets of ordinary psychology mingled with the actual tools of 
this housebreaking. To what purpose? Isn't it preferable to take 
what the handwriting gives without violence or artifice? Yours, 
rapid as it is, finds itself every moment surpassed by you yourself, 
by what you call your daily "expectation", you rush out ahead 
of each word to see if something is coming . . . That conclu- 
sion, isn't it so, I was permitted to draw since you speak of it 
yourself. That young, vital impatience, does there anywhere exist 
the immense event that could wholly satisfy it? I doubt it. For it 
would always want change, what follows, the next surprise. The 
adventure? It is on this that I have no valid opinion. I have never 
felt myself capable of looking for it, for I lack the principal 
quality for coping with it, I mean that dauntless presence of mind 
over which they dispose who have the habit of immediate action. 
I myself am slow interiorly, I have that intrinsic slowness of the 
tree that composes its growth and its flowering, yes, I have a little 
of its admirable patience (I have had to educate myself to it 
since understanding the secret slowness that prepares, that distills 
every work of art), but if I have its venerable measure, I have 
nothing of its immobility. Oh, travel! The elan of departing 
suddenly, almost without knowing whither, that I know, on that 
point we would be admirably in accord. How many times my 
life has found itself wholly concentrated in this one feeling of 
departure; going far, far away and that first awakening under 
a new sky! And to recognize oneself there, no, to learn more 
there. To feel that there too, where one has never been, one is 
continuing something, and that a part of your heart, unconsciously 


indigenous to this unknown climate, is born and developing from 
the moment of your arrival and endowing you with a new blood, 
intelligent and marvelously informed on things it is impossible to 
know. These experiences have little by little transformed the 
ardent traveler I was into a colonist who settles do r wn. I no longer 
went into distant countries as a curious visitor, I settled there, I 
lived in them, and I amply corrected the accident of having been 
born somewhere by a more vast and more loving birth. (But I see 
that in speaking to you of these sojourns, I am coming back to the 
slowness I commend . . .) How delightful it is to awaken in 
some place where no one, no one in the world, can guess where 
you are. Sometimes I have stopped unexpectedly in cities that 
happened to be on my route, just to savor this delight of not 
being able to be imagined there by any living being, nor reached 
by any other person's thought. How much that added to the 
lightness of my soul, I recall certain days in Cordova where I 
lived as if in a transfigured body, by dint of being completely 
unknown. Charm of staying in a little Spanish city, simply to 
enter into relation with a few dogs and a blind beggar (more 
dangerous, this latter, because he senses you) . But after three days, 
if he hears you coming back at the same hour toward his church, 
he counts you a someone who from henceforth exists, and he re- 
patriates you in his world of sound, and behold you are promoted 
to a new mystic and nocturnal birth . . . 

Knowing these few tastes of my nomad life, do the New 
Poems * still seem so impersonal to you? You see, in order to say 
what happens to me, I needed not so much an instrument of feel- 
ing as I did clay: involuntarily I undertook to make use of so- 
called lyric poetry to shape, not feelings, but things 1 had felt; 
the whole event of life had to find place in that shaping, in- 
dependently of the suffering or pleasure it had at first brought me. 
That shaping would have been valueless if it had not gone as far 
as the mw$-shaping of every passing detail, it was necessary to 
come through to the essence. 

* The New Poems and New PoemsSecond Party written between 
1906 and 1909 approximately, are the last volumes of verse I have published. 

_ 32? 

"Form-Dichter", I do not know what that is ... Also, hap- 
pily, for more than twenty years I have never read a single line 
of what might be said about my works. Not out of contempt, 
certainly not. Only this critical profession is so removed from 
mine, it nowhere touches on anything I do. Also I have no need 
of being enlightened on my writings; all my interior action, since 
I have been in possession of my resources, holds, and no voice, 
be it the strongest and most authoritative, could influence the 
precision and the error of my intimate balance. And as regards 
the efforts of others, I do as my great friend Verhaeren did: I 
have my admiration with which to measure their elan and to 
consent, infinitely, to their victories! 

And this too brings us closer together, that you did not want 
to judge a work of art save by its intensity. One can be mistaken, 
of course; but how much more touching and more vivifying an 
error of that sort remains than an error of criticism! . . . 

To Use Jahr Chateau de Muzot sur Sierre (Valais) Switzerland 

February 22, 1923 

Dear girl, many a sun and many a candle's light has shone since 
Christmas through your luminous silhouette and has made it gay 
and warm to me, the figure in it, yours and your tall grasses and 
your moon and your stars . . . ; often, when I looked through, 
it was like your growth's green blood, you young flower, that was 
stirring inside there, your trust even into sorrow and your joy in 
everything that is life's. At last I must tell you all that was not 
lost on me, though I was silent: all along this winter I have been 
a bad letter writer despite my great solitude and my long evenings. 
That comes from the fact that my pen (it is unfortunately the 
same that has to manage the work and also the paths of communi- 
cation by letter!) exhausted itself last winter in endless labor 
and now, this year, suffices only for the translations I have set 
myself, and for the most necessary in the epistolary line, which, 
with my enormously expanded correspondence, is still consider- 


But I am sure you understand me, you dear girl stirred to your 
innermost heart, when I beg you to keep your speaking-to-me 
(though it be only something you feel or now and then write) in- 
dependent of my visible response; with your attitude, you can- 
not fail to feel me responding and answering, even if at first, even 
if for a long time I am silent. 

Perhaps too you are turning not so much to the person that 
I am; perhaps you are addressing and rejoicing with the man I 
was twenty years ago when I wrote those books that became 
closest to you, immediately yours, so that through them you first 
became open and flowing toward human beings, toward the 
fraternally human. This, this linking with human neighborhood 
and nearness did not happen to me either until very late, and with- 
out certain periods in my youth passed in Russia, probably would 
scarcely ever have been vouchsafed me as purely and as com- 
pletely as one really must be allowed to experience it in order to 
be set in without false rivets into the whole, into the glory of life. 
I began with things, which were the true confidants of my lonely 
childhood, and it was already a great deal that I managed, without 
outside help, to get as far as animals . . . But then Russia opened 
itself up to me and bestowed on me the brotherliness and the dark- 
ness of God, in whom alone there is community. So I named him 
at that time too, the God who had broken in upon me, and 
lived a long time in the anteroom of his name, on my knees . . . 
Now you would scarcely ever hear me name him, there is an 
indescribable discretion between us, and where once nearness was 
and penetration, there stretch new distances, as in the atom, which 
the new science also conceives as a universe in the small. The 
comprehensible escapes us, is transformed, instead of possession 
one learns relation, and there arises a namelessness that must 
begin again with God in order to be complete and without 
evasion. The experience of feeling recedes behind an endless long- 
ing for all that can be felt . . . attributes are taken away from 
God, the no longer expressible, fall back to creation, to love and 
death . . . ; it is perhaps only that again and again which took 


place in certain passages in the Book of Hours, this ascent of God 
out of the breathing heart, with which the sky is covered, and his 
falling down as rain. But every confessing to it would already be 
too much. The Christian experience enters less and less into con- 
sideration; the ancient God outweighs it infinitely. The view that 
one is sinful and needs ransom as premise for God is more and more 
repugnant to a heart that has comprehended the earth. Not sin- 
fulness and error in the earthly, on the contrary, its pure nature 
becomes essential consciousness, sin is surely the most wonderfully 
roundabout way to God, but why should they go on pilgrimage 
who have never left him? The strong, inwardly quivering bridge 
of the Mediator has sense only where the abyss is granted between 
God and us , but this very abyss is full of the darkness of God, 
and where one experiences it, let him climb down and howl in it 
(that is more necessary than to cross over it). Only to him for 
whom the abyss too has been a dwelling place do the heavens be- 
fore him turn about and everything deeply and profoundly of 
this world that the Church embezzled for the Beyond, comes 
back; all the angels decide, singing praises, in favor of earth! 

You are too young, dear girl, to understand now, on the spot, 
what I mean; but, do you see, one thing is more important to me 
now than all the rest, to be precise. I did not want your dear 
heart to seek me where I no longer am; you are not for that 
reason to lose me, on the contrary, your affection, even for rny 
onetime heart, can clarify itself only if you know in what spirit 
it has been unfolding . The mysteries are greater than you can 
yet surmise, but you already know much about them since you 
could write that on your "beloved God's earth", all was beautiful, 
only all was just "differently beautiful". Take that conception 
very broadly and don't let yourself be frightened or confused. 



To Leopold von Schldzer Chateau de Muzot sur Sierre (Valais) 

March 30, 1923 

... To preserve tradition I mean not the superficially- 
conventional but what is of real descent (even if not around us, 
where circumstances tie it off more and more, then in us) and 
to continue it cleverly or blindly, according to one's disposition, 
may for us (who will now once and for all remain those sac- 
rificed to transitions) be the most crucial task. The impulse to 
contribute to its fulfillment something of my own, something 
comparatively precise, urged forth last year, in a few days, a 
number of sonnets which today I am sending to you (and your 
good wife) as a little reply to the great friendliness of your gift. 
Much in these poems might, without the cognizance of certain 
premises and some incidental information concerning my attitude 
toward love and death, be difficult to grasp, but much that is 
quite fully matured will open itself completely to you (who are 
not indeed without some closer dispositions toward and associa- 
tions with me and for years have accompanied my changes in kind 
sympathy). My inclination to establish this very link with the 
greatest and most powerful part of tradition, yes, obedience to 
the inner indication to set this attempt within my work above 
every other, will serve moreover to elucidate for you many pas- 
sages that deny themselves on first or second glance; regarded 
from such an angle then, the structure of the whole (unpremedi- 
tated, based entirely on inner dictation) as well as the parallelism 
of the first and second parts might become more intelligible. But 
enough, it would seem presumptuous of me to plague you with 
further "introductions"! I only wanted to be allowed, in this 
giving, to be genuinely giving and communicative. 


I 199 3 

To Xaver von Moos Chateau de Muzot sur Sierre/Valais 

April 20, 1923 

. . . You mention the Sonnets to Orpheus: these may con- 
front the reader, now and then, rather ruthlessly. They are per- 
haps the most mysterious, even to me, in their way of arising and 
imposing themselves on me, the most enigmatical dictation I have 
ever sustained and achieved; the whole first part was written down 
in a single breathless act of obedience between the second and 
fifth of February 1922, without one word being in doubt or hav- 
ing to be changed. And that at a time when I had braced myself 
for another great work and was also already occupied with it. 
How could one help growing in reverence and infinite gratitude, 
through such experiences in one's own existence. Even I myself 
am penetrating only gradually into the spirit of this mission, as 
which the Sonnets appear. As for their comprehensibility, I am 
now at Easter time when I enjoyed the visit of friends here, I 
was able to make the test fully capable, reading aloud, of con- 
veying these poems accurately, there isn't one that then eludes 
the understanding of the whole context. To test that out, recently, 
filled and satisfied me extraordinarily. . . . 

H 20 3 

To Clara Rilke Chateau de Muzot sur Sierre, Valais 

April 23, 1923 

I learned of Schuler's death by chance, from a little letter from 
Lilinka Knoop-Claus where it was just casually mentioned; wrote 
the very same day to her mother with a request for fuller particu- 
lars; meanwhile, before the answer could get here, I received them, 
as detailed as could be desired, through Hedwig Jaenchen- 
Woermann (with whom Schuler enjoyed staying during the 
last two summers) . But now you, with your intense and genuine 
experience, have implanted in me his reconciled and accepted 
going, as it will remain in me, a completion and confirmation of 

his personality, in which mystery was there, the way I always 
divine it, as existence. I thank you for these good tidings, which 
in so large a sense informed me about you too, it was like an 
offering placed before Schuler's memory, everything you have 
there assembled together under his name, and that you did not 
forget the smile he would allow at thought of me or speaking of 
me, the as you say (so wonderfully clearly to me) "lighted-up 
smile", makes me especially grateful to you. To know this more 
than anything else about him, was after all what I needed. In 
memory of him I have just got a few newly opened narcissus and 
placed them on the altar of the abandoned rustic chapel (beside 
Muzot) which I take care of; on account of its decrepitude no 
mass is read in it any more, and so it is now given back to all the 
gods and is always full of open simple homage. 

In the Sonnets to Orpheus there is a lot that Schuler too would 
have granted; yes, who knows whether my expressing much in 
them at once so openly and so cryptically does not come across to 
me from my contact with him; I myself have only now, in reading 
aloud, gradually grasped these poems (which, when they un- 
expectedly came the whole "First Part" came into being be- 
tween the znd and 5th of February 1922 , burst over me so that 
I had only just time to obey) and learned to convey them pre- 
cisely; with little helps that I am able to interpolate in com- 
municating them, I now know very well how to serve the in- 
telligibility of the whole, the continuity everywhere establishes 
itself and where a darkness remains, it is of such a kind as to de- 
mand not illumination but submission. If you ever have questions 
about any of the poems, I will do my utmost to answer them. 
Isn't it lovely that the white horse (The "Ex-Voto", first Part, 
2oth sonnet, p. 26), which I "experienced" with Lou on a meadow 
in Russia, in 1899 or 1900, leapt through my heart again?! How 
nothing is ever lost! . . . 

Spring, the Wallis is not a country where it can really draw 
breath, or reach its own peculiar depths, for which its being able 
to hesitate is the premise. The sun, already too powerful in 
March, draws all vegetation, as if with corkscrews, out of the hard 

gray earth. And then this climate has the frightful superstition of 
admitting no rain; it is rain-shy to a degree I would not have held 
thinkable; any means of thwarting and dissipating rain is agree- 
able to it, in the summer that sometimes has its pleasant side, 
in that one almost always manages not to get wet , but now, 
when it longs to rain silently and fruitfully, long letters that the 
sky would like to write to the earth, one almost despairs over the 
daily angers of the storm that with indescribable virtuosity hurls 
the good clouds over the mountains. That often tugs at one's 
nerves and, even more, at the poor flowers in the beds which, 
senselessly whipped and flogged, lose their heads. 

And I, personally, have all sorts of physical indispositions that 
occasionally spoil a day or a night for me , but none that I have 
not known long enough to get along with, as best I can. My pen 
has been thoroughly harnessed, these weeks, copying down the 
rather numerous translations this winter has brought in, glorious 
poems of Paul Valery , and never, it seems to me, have I been 
more accurate and happy in translation. . . . 

C *oi n 

To Clara Rilke Chateau de Muzot sur Sierre (Valais), Switzerland 

December 21, 1923 

. . . You could scarcely guess to what reading I have belonged 
with quite zealous absorption these last evenings. My housekeeper 
was presented with the letters and diaries of Paula Becker which 
I did think I knew; but this edition, which seems to have been 
little by little considerably enlarged (it is the fifth edition I have 
before me) gives so much more rounded and more deeply co- 
herent a picture of her mature personality that to me the reading 
was like new and infinitely moving. Only now can that fabulously 
pure linking of destiny and task be perceived; only now does one 
understand the measure of quiet exclusion and equally quiet as- 
sent vested in her, and admire, once again, the way she used it, 
almost undoubting, reverently and joyfully. 

I had the feeling in reading that I should lay my two books 


somewhere in a niche to her memory, so that she may now pardon 
me my "unjoyousness" and so much else. And with you too, dear 
Clara, she would be pleased and in accord and would remind you 
that, nearly twenty-five years ago, she noted down that whatever 
might befall you, it would always be for your best good! . . . 

[ 202 3 

To Nanny von Escher Chateau de Muzot s/Sierre/Valais 

December 22, 1923 

... In you, Nanny von Escher, are combined such ancient and 
pure qualities of this manifold land that I feel a sort of satisfaction 
in showing by these books what I have achieved upon its righteous 
ground and under its protection. Much in the course and con- 
tinuity of these verses about this I have no illusions you will 
find difficult of approach. Not as if I thought I was representing 
another time, for you are of those who have not grown away from 
younger people (and, incidentally, I may count myself among 
the generation of grandfathers, hence in common parlance among 
the "old") . . . 

But it lies in the nature of these poems, in their condensation 
and abbreviation (in the way they frequently state lyric totals 
instead of listing the figures that were necessary for the result) 
that they seem more designed to be grasped in general by means 
of the inspiration of those of like direction than by what one 
calls "understanding". Two inmost experiences were decisive for 
their production: The resolve that grew up more and more in my 
spirit to hold life open toward death, and, on the other side, the 
spiritual need to situate the transformations of love in this wider 
whole differently than was possible in the narrower orbit of life 
(which simply shut out death as the Other) . Here, so to speak, 
would be the place to look for the "plot" of these poems, and now 
and then it stands, I believe, simply and strongly in the fore- 
ground. . . , 

1*03 ] 

To Gertrud Oukama Knoop Chateau de Muzot s/Sicrre (Valais) 

February 13, 1924 

I thank you from my heart for not wanting to wait until this 
late Easter to bestow upon me a few tidings which I received with 
attentiveness and real need; to me too, my silence toward you had 
long been too great , but although the exchange here provides 
no diversions (at most when the dismal necessity occurs of pour- 
ing a flood of Czech or Austrian kronen or even marks! into the 
franc mold . . .), still there were other things preventing, dis- 
mal for me and on the whole unaccustomed; physical indispo- 
sitions, of distant origin, with which however I have always been 
able to deal myself, have since summer become so importunate 
that twice (shortly after Christmas again) I had to seek out 
sanitariums; in this getting involved with doctors there is some- 
thing indescribably confusing to me, just as though I were to find 
myself in the situation of dealing with my soul by the roundabout 
way of a priest: for the communication with my body, for 
twenty-five years, has been so direct and of such strict under- 
standing, that I feel as if this medical interpreter were driving 
his way like a wedge into our neat adjustment. On the other hand 
it would be a new and somehow painful thing for me were I re- 
quired with hitherto unused mental superiority to disregard in 
some measure a flagging body. In this I have never developed an 
antithesis, on the contrary, I was convinced that all the elements 
of my nature acted together toward a pure harmony, at the high 
points of which achievement then resulted from this surplus of 
common (physical and spiritual) gladness. My body, as an initiate 
into everything, has always had power of attorney too, it was 
permitted, like its partners in responsibility, to sign for the whole 
"firm". An upset in this business order would be a desastre for 
me; for however many great, indeed powerful counter-examples 
one could hold up to me, pointing to infinite results that could 
issue from the overcoming of the physical, from ignoring it, even 

from exploiting its indispositions, it would not be my way of ar- 
riving at such things, and I do not know what solution I would 
have to work up to for myself, being as I am, in a situation of 
that sort. Well, perhaps it hasn't permanently got that far, and 
I may, if enough has been imposed on me, continue in the old 
frame of mind and by means of it achieve a few more results! . . . 

Russia: that "face of the mother of God", yes, there too: may 
those who are aware of its ascent not retreat too soon, but be 
sparing, sparing of it, hide it and cover it until its radiance has 
become ripe and time void! I don't doubt for a moment that the 
division as which we must see the war, facilitates new beginnings, 
but one trembles for them lest they show themselves too early and 
fall into the hands of the exploiters. The days of the profiteers 
would first have to be over. 

If only I could be at your home for some tea hour, of a Sunday, 
in my habitual deep armchair, and tell you of all the wonderful 
things that are coming out of France; I am surrounded by them 
here. All I can lay by I use for the purchase of books now ap- 
pearing; for many of them are of the kind one should not only 
read but open again and again. There the frontiers have now really 
fallen; having found itself again in a new vital way, the French 
spirit no longer fears to assimilate what is foreign and remote: 
suddenly, as never happened from that quarter, the Italian or 
Spanish, Russian or Scandinavian genus, but also the English and 
even the German , is being recognized and characteristically 
evaluated; and the influences they thought before the war they 
could dispense with (or, being themselves intellectually localized, 
would have misunderstood) . . . , these influences now appear 
already quite taken up into the works of the youngest generation, 
those for whom the war has been something like a heroic puberty. 
There would be no sense in my citing names now: but there are 
ten or more books that give reality to inner events and hence 
(one may believe) are preparing from a distance, from the farthest 
distance perhaps, the corresponding external events . . . My con- 
fidence is great in this direction. . . . 


To Alfred Schaer Chateau de Muzot s/Sierre/Valais 

February 26, 1924 

... In my earliest period, twenty-five or thirty years ago, one 
might indeed speak of "influences" that can be easily and specifi- 
cally cited. The name of Jacobsen alone signifies here a quite 
definite epoch in my life: he was really the "year's regent" of my 
planetary-terrestrial year. And when I think of Bang (of the 
Gray and the White House), a star of the first magnitude might 
be indicated there, by whose appearance and position I found 
my way for a long while in the darkness of my youth (which 
was differently dark and differently twilit from periods of youth 
today). Liliencron's name was very wonderful to me in those 
years, Dehmel's hard and significant; Hofmannsthal's existence 
somehow proved to one that the most absolute poet was possible 
as a contemporary , and in Stefan George's relentless creating 
one sensed the rediscovered law which henceforth no one, if he is 
concerned with the magic of the word, would be able to ignore. 
Into these experienced relationships worked the Russians, Turge- 
niev first, and the man who had directed me to this master, Jacob 
Wassermann, through his personality as well as through his first, 
already singularly controlled works. To recognize the Michael 
Kramer of Gerhart Hauptmann, with whom I also had personal 
relations, was a pride of those years. With my first trip to Russia 
(1899) and my learning of the Russian language in which I then 
experienced quickly and almost without hindrance any more, the 
spell of Pushkin and Lermontov, Nekrassov and Fet and the in- 
fluence of so many others . . . , with these decisive inclusions the 
situation then changes so basically that a tracking down of in- 
fluences seems absurd and impossible: they are countless! How 
many things had effect! One by its perfection, another because 
one at once understood that it should be better or differently done. 
This, because one immediately recognized it as akin and ex- 
emplary, that, because it obtruded itself antagonistically without 
being comprehensible, indeed, almost without being bearable. 


And life! The presence of the suddenly exhaustlessly disclosed 
life which in Russia opened up to me still like a picture book, but 
in which, since my moving to Paris (1902), I knew myself in- 
cluded, everywhere com-municating, co-imperiled, co-endowed! 
And art ... the arts! That I was Rodin's secretary is not much 
more than an obstinate legend that grew up out of the circum- 
stance of my once, temporarily, for five months ( ! ) , assisting him 
in his correspondence. . . . But his disciple I was in a much bet- 
ter and much longer sense: for at the bottom of all the arts there 
operated the one, same challenge which I have never received 
so purely as through conversations with the powerful master who 
at that time, although of a great age, was still full of living ex- 
perience; in my own metier I possessed a very great and praise- 
worthy friend, Emile Verhaeren, the poet so human in his hard 
glory, and as the most forceful model, from 1906 on, there 
stood before me the work of a painter, Paul Cezanne, every trace 
of which I pursued after the death of the master. 

But I often ask myself whether that which was in itself un- 
accented did not exercise the most essential influence on my 
development and production: the companionship with a dog; 
the hours I could pass in Rome watching a ropemaker who in his 
craft repeated one of the oldest gestures in the world, . . . ex- 
actly like that potter in a little Nile village, to stand beside whose 
wheel was, in a most mysterious sense, indescribably fruitful for 
me. Or my being granted to walk with a shepherd through the 
countryside of "Les Baux", or in Toledo, with a few Spanish 
friends and their women companions, to hear sung in an im- 
poverished little parish church an ancient novena that once, in 
the iyth century, when the carrying on of this custom had been 
suppressed, was sung in the same church by angels ... Or that 
so incommensurable an entity as Venice is familiar to me, in such 
degree that strangers could ask me successfully among the mani- 
fold turnings of the "calli" about any destination they sought 
. . . , all this was "influence", wasn't it? , and the greatest per- 
haps still remains to be mentioned: my being permitted to be 
alone in so many lands, cities and landscapes, undisturbed, ex- 


posed, with all the diversity, with all the hearkening and heeding 
of my nature, to something new, willing to belong to it and yet 
again compelled to detach myself from it. 

No, into these simple transactions that life performs with us, 
books, at least later, cannot extend entirely decisive influence; 
much from them that lays itself in us with its weight may simply 
be outweighed by meeting with a woman, by a shift in the season, 
yes by a mere change of atmospheric pressure . . . , through, for 
example, a "different" afternoon unexpectedly following upon 
such and such a morning , or something else of the sort that is 
continually happening to us. 

The question about "influences" is naturally possible and ad- 
missible, and there may be cases where the answer carries with it 
the most surprising disclosures; however, no matter how that 
answer reads, it must promptly be rendered again to the life from 
which it stems and in a sense be newly dissolved in it. Pursuant to 
this feeling, I have tried here, in order to answer at all, to prepare 
something like a "solution". May it appear not too diluted in your 
test-tube, my dear Doctor, and may it manifest a few more proper- 
ties which will repay the investigation and observation you wish 
to expend upon it. 

To Lou Andreas-Salome Chateau de Muzot sur Sierre ( Valais) 

Thursday after Easter, 1924 [April 22] 

My dear, dear Lou, I cannot tell you what a great, a grand 
Easter you provided for me with your letter to which I joyfully 
looked forward, the longer it was delayed, as to something only 
the more sure and rich! Now it has been added to these days of 
celebration and was ripe with good tidings and affection as nothing 
that has befallen me for a long time. Only presently, when I have 
recounted to you the history of my past (third) Muzot-winter, 
will you see how wonderful it is that you can just now report this 
to me about your patients: I keep reading it over and over and 


draw from it an indescribable security. That I needed to confirm 
this will of itself tell you that my winter has been not a good one, 
indeed almost a hard one. What you had foreseen after that 
enormous capability of the first winter at Muzot, the reaction, 
has set in, and for a moment it was so violent and confusing that, 
shortly after Christmas, I left Muzot and went into the Val-Mont 
Sanitarium (above Montreux), unable (for the first time in many 
years) to deal with myself. They were curious weeks. Physically, 
the transverse colon had become the affected spot, more and more, 
but from there everything had gone awry. I was in Val-Mont 
three weeks. Unfortunately only on the next-to-last day, just be- 
fore my departure, the attentive and well-intentioned doctor dis- 
covered on top of all this a goitre on the left side, which he 
indeed assured me was ten years "old" and had been compensated, 
but which, once discovered, nevertheless worked into my con- 
sciousness, all the more as there also emanated from the transverse 
colon, through upward pressure of air, swallowing and breathing 
difficulties of which I then, with the additional cause, became even 
more aware and suspicious. But that is already "case history" 
which I will sketch out for you better another time, dear Lou; 
for just now the house is full of guests, and visitors upon visitors 
are coming in relays in the next few days (an after all not unwel- 
come change after the loneliness of the long winter) . . . But 
also I have not recanted what I wrote you that time two years 
ago: that after the magnificence of this achievement I will gladly 
bear what may be imposed upon me in the way of reaction. I am 
holding out. And in so doing have also not been altogether inac- 
tive: a whole volume of French poems (to me remarkable; a few 
times I even set myself the same theme in French and in German, 
which then, to my surprise, developed differently from each lan- 
guage: which would speak very strongly against the naturalness 
of translation) came (somehow irresistibly) into existence, several 
things besides, and my reading all winter long was lively and of 
most rewarding intake. The location of my old tower is such that 
French books above all came to me; there is no end to my amaze- 
ment at all that is now coming from there. Proust in first rank, 

__ 337 

who must certainly be wonderful to you too. You know how I 
was translating Paul Valery all winter before last: this year he 
was one of my first visitors at Muzot, two weeks before Easter 

Since your letter came, Lou, do you know what I think? That 
you will sometime be here with me, this year! Why shouldn't that 
be possible? (except in the hottest time, when it would not be 
good for you and when I too shall probably go away) . You know 
I have a guest room, a dear mansard, though with very small win- 
dows. Let us keep that in prospect when occasion arises? Yes? 

Perhaps too, I must soon exchange the present rather special 
and exposed solitude for that in Paris which is nourished and 
permeated differently; perhaps everything here is beginning to be 
no longer necessary to me in the same measure, and as regards cli- 
mate too is making itself oppressive. The local sun works only on 
the wine, that is its metier: everything else, plants and people, it 
forces too much, burdening them with the weight of its brooding 
which is perfectly adapted to wine country. And so, in time, a 
change, at least temporarily, will be necessary. 

Since November second I have a granddaughter, a strong and 
sturdy little Christine. Ruth asked me particularly to tell you too. 
From her therefore, many good things; from Clara wonderfully 
good things even (from within) and such fine mitigations and il- 
luminations . . . 

To Anton Kippenberg Muzot 

before May 22, 1924 

. . . how happy I am that I hardly need increase at all the 
count or countlessness of the letters that crowd upon you on this 
(as custom has it) more stressed day of celebration; that rather I 
may, to say most of it, allude to a very recent reunion and all its 

What I have wished for you in so many years, in the moments 
of greatest mutual trust and joyfullest understanding, and that 


wordlessly: today, as you read this, may it all, from me to you, 
wordlessly, be in effect. 

Which might perhaps be expressed: 

May everything lovingly achieved in home and profession and 
in the clear circle of your affection and duty make itself felt for 
an instant in your consciousness, so that you instinctively come to 
rest in it, repose upon it; and if then in a so festively appointed 
today the desire stirs to continue tomorrow something so mani- 
foldly begun, may you, friend of ever more and more developed 
measure, at the same time discern in the force of this wish both 
the impatience of youth and the generously serene reflection of 
riper years. 

So much for the sayable; the other may remain between us in 
use and suspension. In use and suspension let that too be kept 
which binds me to you indescribably, my gratitude. 

It would be to interrupt a feeling like that in its course, my 
good friend, were I to try suddenly to designate it with words. 
But allow, dear, loyal friend, allow its current to carry to you a 
simple notebook no dedication, nothing called forth or de- 
termined by the "occasion"; nevertheless something written down 
in this year, that of your fiftieth birthday. 

You have long been acquainted with that peculiarity of my 
nature of falling back now and then upon an earlier tone; such 
relapses hardly advance what between us we may in confidence 
call the work, and they cause him to whom they happen a cer- 
tain surprise and embarrassment. When I was looking through 
these sketches from two winter evenings again recently, I came 
near destroying them; but then it seemed to me that they might 
prove to be directed if to anyone to my friend. For him who 
has so often, on some urgent human or civic occasion, been called 
upon to exert himself in quick participation, may there perhaps 
be here provided a playground, an hour of relaxation for his 

And to close, this besides: my dear Kippenberg, you who are 
so practiced in supporting me, apply this too now for my sup- 
port, that you are a year ahead of me, and give me an example of 


how one makes one's own, in a comprehensive and progressive 
sense, this turn beyond one's fiftieth year. Before I try it myself, 
let me in the conception of this be your pupil. 


To Anton Kippenberg Muzot sur Sierre (Valais) Switzerland 

May 28, 1924 

. . . Clara Rilke told me a great deal about her work, showed 
me pictures too (especially significant to me was the Schuler 
bust fashioned with such strange validity from memory and out 
of comprehensive inner experience); but most of all I let her 
report to me about Ruth and about little Christine and we 
mutually supported and furthered each other as best we could in 
the simplest and most elementary exercises of grandparenthood. 

Not to forget this either, dear friend: on the twenty-second 
we thought again and again of you; in the afternoon Clara Rilke 
wanted to send you another telegram, and then in the evening, 
in the Bellevue, I drew you completely into our little circle. 
Since, for the guest period, the old ice of my going without alco- 
hol is of course broken, I took advantage of it at once and had a 
half bottle of Pommery brought in which we drank up very gaily 
to your honor and happiness. 

Clara Rilke, I must further add, was very moved that, despite 
hindrances, you had made it possible to see her in Leipzig; she 
still always does do things rather on the spur of the moment, but 
behind the disconnected decisions there really is developing in 
her, more and more, a reliable constant in which gradually the 
separated and interrupted elements of her nature might one 
hopes come together in such a way as to be at her disposal at 
any given moment. . . . 


To Countess M. Chateau de Muzot sur Sierre/Valais 

August 9, 1924 

I have just come from Ragaz and although, after largely ne- 
glecting my correspondence for six weeks, a mountainous letter 
landscape awaited me on my table, I am allowing precedence over 
all the rest to writing you my convalescence wishes. . . . 

You were able in so lively and direct a way to comprehend 
my difficult books, despite the endless inevitable difficulties these 
verses entail (not so much on account of their obscurity, but be- 
cause their points of departure are often concealed, like a tangle 
of roots) since quite without help you were so able to com- 
prehend, something really almost like a reunion, it seems to me, 
has taken place between us, at which however you made a severe 
effort and I (as far as I am personally concerned) was severely 
eliminated! But it can scarcely be said to what degree one is 
able to carry oneself over into an artistic condensation as intense 
as that of those Elegies and certain individual Sonnets; often, bn 
the thinner days of life (the many! ), it is a strange situation for the 
person who brings them forth to feel beside him such essence of 
his own existence in its indescribable outweighing. The actuality 
of such poems stands out singularly above the flatness and in- 
cidentalness of daily life out of which nevertheless this greater, 
more valid thing was wrested and derived, how one scarcely 
knows oneself; for hardly is it done before one belongs again in 
the general blinder destiny, among those who forget, or know as 
if they didn't know, and who through a facile vagueness or being- 
imprecise contribute to increasing the sum of life's mistakes. Thus 
every big artistic achievement, into its last possible success, is both 
distinction and humiliation for him who was capable of it. The 
poetic word of course has about it an atmosphere of freedom that 
is wanting to us; it has no neighbors, save in turn other equivalent 
formations, and between it and them a spaciousness may evolve 
similar to that of the starry sky: enormous distances and the un- 

predictable movements of a higher order for which we lack any 
comprehensive view. . . . 

C 2*9 3 

To Nora Purtscher-Wydenbruck Chateau de Muzot sur Sierre, 

August n, 1924 

... If your whole letter, my dear Countess, was a subject of 
interest to the Princess, her quite special attention went to those 
strange lines in which you allude to your experiences with me- 
diumistic writing. You remember that at the Taxis', whenever a 
reliable medium was there, they held very serious and often con- 
tinuous seances , in Ragaz we were just in the process of 
reviewing former and more recent results of these sessions, a part 
of which was still unknown to me, and so what you kindly wished 
to tell me landed in an atmosphere that allowed each of your words 
to work and to take effect with all its surmise, in all its seriousness. 
Only we would have liked to know so much more! 

The Princess bade me tell you to go ahead quietly and care- 
fully; perhaps those communicating powers may finally permit 
us to write down and preserve their manifestations (whereas it 
is certainly important to enter into no relations with metaphysical 
societies! ) if one undertakes to keep these confidential and not 
use them in a way displeasing to them. It is indeed of the greatest 
value to be able to reread those communications the sense or 
validity of which comes out only gradually. As for myself, my 
own impressions in this mysterious domain stem, with very few 
exceptions, from those experiments in the Taxis circle at which I 
was often present as an observer until about ten years ago. Later it 
was unfortunately never possible for me to connect with a reliable 
medium, otherwise I would certainly have been eager to increase 
on suitable occasions the very singular experiences that had fallen 
to my lot. I am convinced that these phenomena, if one accepts 
them, without taking refuge in them, and remains willing again 


and again to fit them into the 'whole of our existence, which is in- 
deed full of no less wonderful mysteries in all its happenings , I 
am, I say, convinced that these manifestations do not correspond 
to a false curiosity in us, but in fact indescribably concern us and 
(if one were to exclude them) would still be capable of making 
themselves repeatedly felt at some place. Why shouldn't they, 
like everything not yet recognized or indeed recognizable, be an 
object of our effort, our amazement, our perturbation and rever- 

I was for a while inclined, as you now seem to be, to assume 
"external" influences at these experiments; I am no longer so to 
the same degree. Extensive as the "external" is, it scarcely bears 
comparison, for all its sidereal distances, with the dimensions, 
'with the depth dimensions of our inner being, which does not even 
need the spaciousness of the universe to be in itself almost im- 
measurable. If then the dead, if then those to come are in need 
of an abode, what refuge should be more pleasant and more prof- 
fered to them than this imaginary space? It appears to me more 
and more as if our customary consciousness inhabited the apex 
of a pyramid whose base in us (and in a sense beneath us) spreads to 
such breadth that, the farther we find ourselves capable of letting 
ourselves down in it, the more generally do we appear to be in- 
cluded in the given facts, not dependent on time and space, of 
terrestrial, of, in the broadest sense, worldly existence. Since my 
earliest youth I have entertained the conjecture (and have also, 
as far as I sufficed, lived by it) that at some deeper cross-section 
of this pyramid of consciousness mere being could become an 
event for us, that inviolable presentness and simultaneity of all that 
which, at the upper "normal" apex of self-consciousness, it is 
granted us to experience as mere "sequence". To suggest a per- 
sonality that would be capable of perceiving what is past and what 
has not yet come into being simply as presentness to the last de- 
gree was, even then, in the time of the "Make", a necessity to me, 
and I am persuaded that this conception corresponds to a state 
which is real though it may be retracted by all the terms of life 
as we practice it. 


Now those seances, with all their disturbing or confusing at- 
tendant manifestations, with their fatal clumsinesses, halfnesses 
and (there can be no doubt about it) their countless misunder- 
standings . . . , lie on the road to such insights, and could not 
pass me by as, intuitively, these insights were already prefigured 
in me; they have not, since I always inclined to assume a totality 
of the possible, in any way altered my conception of the world: 
it is just that I would simply have missed things of that sort not 
occurring. But just because, in a sense, the naturalness of this 
tremendous thing was already included in my inner assents and 
concessions, I also declined to side with such disclosures more 
than with any other mysteries of existence; they are to me one 
mystery among countless mysteries, all of which have more share 
in us than we in them. Whoever, within poetic creation, is initiated 
into the fabulous wonders of our depths, or at least is, like a blind 
and pure tool, somehow used by them, must arrive at developing 
for himself in marveling one of the most essential applications 
of his spirit. And there I must confess my greatest, my most pas- 
sionate marveling goes to my own achievement, to certain activi- 
ties in Nature, even more than to any mediumistic happenings, 
deeply as they have now and again stirred me. But regarding 
precisely these, while accepting them obediently, seriously and 
reverently, it is my strange instinct, when they pass over and 
into me, at once to waken counterweights to them in my con- 
sciousness: nothing would be more foreign to me than a world in 
which such powers and interferences had the upper hand. And 
strangely: the more I act thus (at pains after every nocturnal 
session, for example, immediately to hold the sight of the starry, 
still night just as grandiose and valid . . .), the more I believe 
myself in agreement with what is essential in those happenings. 
They want, it seems to me, rather to be tolerated than recognized; 
rather not rejected than summoned; rather admitted and loved 
than questioned and exploited. I am, luckily, quite unusable as a 
medium, but I do not doubt for a moment that in my own way I 
keep myself opened to the influences of those often homeless 
forces and that I never cease enjoying or enduring their associa- 


tion. How many words, how many decisions or hesitations may be 
laid to the score of their influence! Moreover, it is one of the 
original inclinations of my disposition to accept the mysterious 
as such, not as something to be unmasked, but rather as the mys- 
tery that, to its innermost being, and everywhere, is thus mysteri- 
ous, as a lump of sugar is sugar throughout. Possibly, thus con- 
ceived, the mysterious on occasion dissolves in our existence or 
in our love, while otherwise we achieve only a mechanical break- 
ing up of the most mysterious, without its actually passing over 
into us. I am (that would perhaps be the only spot in me where 
a slow wisdom could begin) completely without curiosity toward 
life, my own future, the gods . . . What do we know of the 
seasons of eternity and whether it just happens to be harvest 
time! How many fruits that were meant for us or whose weight 
would simply have entailed their falling to our share, how many 
such fruits have inquisitive spirits interrupted in their ripening, 
bearing off a premature, untimely knowledge, often a misunder- 
standing, at the price of a (later) edification, or nourishment 

But I must close, dear and valued friends, after attempting to 
describe so wide an orbit. Take from it something that is yours 
and, if circumstances allow, always communicate with me about 
the particular jolts and movements that translate themselves to you 
from the unknown. You too will not manage without the awak- 
ening of counterweights: which luckily you do not lack, since 
artistic work, house, family, Nature and, not least, the animals 
fervently occupy your heart and your interest. These indeed, who 
are privy to the whole, animals, which have their self -evidentness 
in a broader cross-section of consciousness, are again the most apt 
to lead yonder and are close to the medial state . . . 


To Professor Hermann Pongs Chateau de Muzot sur Sierre, Valais 

August 17, 1924 

. . . When I recognized your letter in last evening's mail, I 
was prepared for a (how well justified) reproof; now you have 
made this so exceedingly charming in the form of the most un- 
derstanding resignation that I would in any case have gone back 
to your earlier letter. But how distances always refute themselves 
in matters of the mind: perhaps at the very time you were writing 
me just now, I had been occupied with that letter, and since then 
it has lain on top of one of my piles of arrears (for here is also 
my excuse: I was absent from home for more than seven weeks 
and forced myself, during this vacation, to leave my letter pen 
switched off. Which now is naturally having its reaction). 

But to that letter before last and its questions. Whenever I took 
it up, even three days ago, I was filled with the same distinct 
regret: that this, for us both, toilsome expression by letter could 
not be replaced by a few hours of living conversation. Not that I 
shunned any toil in face of your detailed interest, but the infor- 
mation you seek would yield itself fully only under the stimulus of 
counter-questions interrupting and luring it on. Especially taking 
into consideration my poor memory, which would perhaps not be 
so poor if it were not a question of in a sense repressed years 
on which, in view of my disinclination to have to do with their 
recollections, no real opinion could take shape in me. 

I am certainly grateful to you for not expecting of me any 
biographical paraphernalia, and must now nevertheless bring up 
a few matters of this sort myself, to make my aversion to my 
earliest productions intelligible to you. The years you are now 
thinking of followed immediately upon some of which I never 
understood how they could have been survived. Around my 
seventeenth year I was so unprepared for life and the work I was 
to realize for myself as can possibly be imagined. A five-year train- 
ing in a military school had finally, on account of the state of my 
health and my spirit, become so flagrantly absurd that it had to 

end with a break. A further year passed in sickliness and per- 
plexity. The lower military academy and later the upper academy 
at Mahrisch-Weisskirchen however good a reputation the two 
institutions may have had in professional circles had brought me 
nothing of what could have served my inclinations and talents; 
moreover the conditions there had become so damaging to my 
health that in the last year and a half I had not been able to fol- 
low even the very one-sided and flimsy instruction customary 
there. Besides this, the segregation of the boys in those strict 
educational institutions was so complete that I knew neither the 
books that would have been nourishing and suitable to my age nor 
any bit of simple reality working into life. The return home to 
Prague seemed at first like a liberation full of infinite possibil- 
ities; actually there resulted from it nothing but embarrassments 
and confusions. These kept increasing the more manifest it be- 
came to what inclinations I wanted to give myself over. My 
father needed the support of all of his great love for me in order 
to concede that the officer's profession might not be the most 
fitting for me. How might one ask him to consent to a vocation 
that stood in contradiction to everything he called profession. 
Yet, after long hesitation, it was arrived at that I should make up 
grammar school; they could not possibly put me among the ten- 
year-olds at its beginning where I had to start. Advantageous pri- 
vate instruction was granted me which, as I was now setting about 
things with a certain determination, took me so far that I got 
through the first six classes of the Latin School in one year; a 
slower pace then made easier the remaining two classes (which, 
as a reward, I was allowed to complete under the same private 
arrangement) and I at last matriculated at a public grammar 
school not much later than I would have come to the final ex- 
amination in a normal school course. 

These years, beset by efforts of every sort, were at the same 
time those of my earliest, often, despite all duties and tasks, quite 
lively productivity; my first publications date from it , all those 
experiments and improvisations which, a little later, I could only 
wish I had had the discretion to retain in my school desk drawer. 


That they nevertheless got out, indeed that I forced them out by 
every means, was due to the same cause that today makes them 
seem to me so inappropriate to denote the beginnings of what I 
was little by little to achieve. If I was foolish enough to want to 
play out those nullities, I was driven to it by the impatient wish 
to prove to my antagonistic environment my right to such ac- 
tivity , a right for which, these attempts once displayed, others 
also might show a notable inclination to intercede. Indeed more 
than anything I was probably hoping for this: to find among the 
public such people as could help me achieve the connection with 
those intellectual movements from which in Prague, even under 
better circumstances than mine, I believe myself fairly shut off. 
It is the only time in my life when I did not struggle within my 
work, but with its miserable scrapings went out after recognition: 
this above all was probably what brought it about that, shortly 
thereafter, when (about a year before the first Russian journey) 
for the first time I found myself implanted in a provisional center 
of my real nature, I disowned that early period with a certain 
shame, though its dust still lay upon my books. In so doing I 
condemned to be sure my own attitude only and did not forget 
the helps that had fallen to my share. Among the Prague people, 
Alfred Klaar, Friedrich Adler, of the younger men Hugo Salus 
and the painter Orlik, had noticed my efforts, and August Sauer 
had turned to even my earliest attempts an attention they could 
not have deserved. But the strongest hand I was permitted to cling 
to had been extended to me from the north, and as long as I did not 
let it go, I may sincerely have boasted about it. I shall never forget 
that it was Detlev von Liliencron who was one of the first to en- 
courage me to the most unforeseeable projects , and if occasion- 
ally, he furnished his cordial letters with the generous salutation 
which, read aloud, spelled: "My splendid Rene Maria", it seemed 
to me (and I was at pains to present this conviction to my family) 
that in these lines I possessed the most reliable indication of the 
boldest future! 

Moreover the poetic influence of Liliencron's work must have 
taken very penetrating effect in me; he on the one hand, on the 

other Jacobsen, had first confided to me in my immaturity and 
isolation how it is possible from what is closest, from things that 
are at hand under all circumstances, to take the leap into the most 
spacious; and how through it one could brace oneself for the ex- 
perience of that wonderful feeling of self in which one's own 
highly insecure ego acquired a relative value that seemed more 
decisive than any possible recognition. 

But as to J. P. Jacobsen, even later, during many years, I still 
experienced through him something so indescribable that I find 
myself in no position to determine without delusion and inven- 
tion what he may have meant to me in those earliest years. Even 
far into the Paris period, he was a companion in my mind and a 
presence in my heart ; that he was no longer living seemed to 
me at times an unbearable deprivation, but just this strange com- 
pulsion still to have known him, early bred in me freedom and 
openness toward the dead writer, an attitude which particularly 
in his, Jacobsen's, homeland and in Sweden was to experience 
the most singular corroboration. 

Here, for example, are places, dear Dr. Pongs, where I miss 
your counter-questions for tracing further with you narrower, 
almost overgrown paths. So to remain at what can be simply 
grasped: I first made Jacobsen's acquaintance (Niels Lyhne and 
the Six Short Stories) in the sympathetic oldest translation of 
Maria von Borch (Reclam) , which still remained the most 
pleasing to me when I had fitted myself to some extent for master- 
ing the Danish texts. 

For the rest, it was Jacob Wassermann to whom I ascribe the 
first, almost severe pointing-out of these books (as well as of 
Turgeniev) ; the lyric vagueness in which I was moving made him, 
who had already learned to value and to practice working and 
reworking in art, impatient , and so one day in Munich, as a 
kind of task, he put into my hands these works which he himself 
had just previously set us as criteria. That I, on my own, was in- 
capable of finding such accessible books reminds me of my dread- 
ful helplessness in reading; without the famous book-stands along 


the Seine, which lay the books of all periods at the very border 
of one's life , what would I ever have found! 

Even those early days in Munich were of no special service to 
me so far as reading goes; the Pages for Art for example even then 
remained unobtainable or unknown to me, so that I cannot have 
read much of Hofmannsthal. The enchantment that emanated 
from the little I could make my own had of course no equal. Of 
Stefan George the Year of the Soul was significant to me from the 
beginning; but it revealed itself as overwhelming only from the 
time I had heard the poet reciting his imperious verses in the 
Lepsius circle. 

When I think of other "influences" it would be difficult to call 
them all to mind; you mention Jacobowski; a Baltic writer, Rein- 
hold Maurice von Stern, and a number of others who appeared in 
the little periodicals read and besieged by all, could be mentioned 
with just as much justification. The, for a while, parallel efforts 
of Wilhelm von Scholz and E. von Bodmann had intermittent 
exemplary or comradely significance , but then Russia came into 
it, two years before I traveled there, through a person close to me 
who embraced it all in her nature, and with that, as you rightly 
recognize, was prepared the turning into what was really my own. 

The "Cornet" was the unforeseen gift of a single night, an 
autumn night, written down in one impulse by the light of two 
candles flickering in the night wind; the drifting of clouds over 
the moon provoked it, after the subject had been inspired in me 
some weeks before by first acquaintance with certain family 
papers I had inherited. 

The "Angel Songs", the "Maidens' Songs" were conceived in 
Tuscany, in Florence and by the Ligurian Sea; a few individual 
ones were probably even written down right there, in Viareggio, 
where years later a part of the Book of Hours came to precipita- 
tion. To speak of the religious terms out of which those songs un- 
folded would require going too far back; for the high point of 
my Catholic-accented emotion is located in the upheavals of 
that hard military-school period which had imposed upon me, 


among five hundred boys, a (for my age) more than life-sized 
experience of loneliness. Immediately after it, or already during 
it, began a ruthless putting-to-use of that relation to God which 
is not to be characterized as denominational. 

Enough: I herewith enclose your letter, the earlier one, so 
that, beside my attempts to reply, you can recall your own ques- 
tions. In this I am not concealing from myself the inadequacy of 
my information. Do not let it discourage you nevertheless from 
coming to me again; perhaps I shall succeed another time in being 
more instructive. I would then suggest simply getting up a kind 
of questionnaire on which you would leave me room to enter the 
answer right beside your inquiry; this practice recently, in cor- 
responding with my Polish translator, proved sufficiently con- 
venient and fruitful to be recommended in similar cases. In closing 
let me further assure you that I could follow your concept or 
occasional surmise very well. I never read what is published on 
my books, but if in some essay insights are expressed as strong and 
reliable as those you show me, I must almost regret having im- 
posed absolutely on myself this (for the rest necessary) restric- 

I feel in duty bound to be grateful, to remain grateful to you 
for bestowing such deep attention. 

Yours sincerely, 

R. M. Rilke 

P.S. I have just noticed a further unanswered postscript on the 
margin of one of your letter-pages. Unfortunately I have no 
remembrance of the creation of the poem: "I would not like to 
die in spring" (do not, please, draw any conclusions from this 
rather vague assertion *). 
* that of the poem! 

To Captain Otto Eraun Chateau de Muzot sur Sierre (Valais), 

September 3, 1924 

... If my wish to make the acquaintance of Niederlangenau 
had not been already lively enough, your kindness, in writing me 
as you did, would have found the happiest means of intensifying 
and arousing it. The history of our family has interested me since 
my childhood, indeed, there was a time then, in my eighth or 
ninth year, when this interest had grown to a kind of passion that 
was unequaled. The head of our family, my father's eldest brother 
(Dr. Jaroslav von Rilke-Ruliken) had in those years, for the 
benefit of his son especially, renewed with extraordinary vigor 
the investigations that had always been going on. It is probably 
thanks to this circumstance that the reports you most kindly 
handed on were all known to me already, though naturally I 
no longer remembered specific dates. Shortly thereafter, through 
the early death of his son, my uncle lost all interest in such dis- 
coveries , but the result of those archival labors which had 
been pursued by several commissioned specialists, a big bundle, 
came to me from his estate, unfortunately to the most uncertain 
destiny: it is to be assumed that these papers, with all the rest of 
my property that had remained there, were auctioned off and 
sold for a song in Paris . . . For the rest, my great-grandfather, 
who at the beginning of the last century had again come into 
landed property (he possessed the extensive estate of Kamenitz 
an der Linde in Bohemia), had undertaken zealous researches into 
his family's past: to him is probably attributable the handing on 
of that tradition which would trace our family back to the family 
of the ancient Carinthian nobility called Rilke, Rilcke) in the 
various spelling cited in Weiss, Old Carinthian Nobility). The 
State Assembly House in Klagenfurt does, in fact, show above 
this name, anciently established there, a coat of arms akin or 
fashioned similarly to ours. From thence (the Carinthian Rilkes, 
if I am not mistaken, appear from 1276 on as liegemen of the 


Carinthian dukes) branches are said to have emigrated even at 
an early period to Saxony and Bohemia, always into mining dis- 
tricts, as indeed the possessions in Carinthia too were located 
in regions in which mining had been indigenous from earliest 
times. All that is of course to be taken more or less as legend, for 
the establishment of an unbroken genealogy has not been pos- 
sible to any of the investigators. 

Furthermore, a Rilke branch must have existed for some time 
on one of the Saxon estates . . . ; I remember finding mention in 
those archival transcripts of a Magdalena Rilke, born von Hart- 
itzsch, who appeared there as late as 1718, which date indeed 
also seems to have been that of the final collapse of the onetime 
prosperity of the family in Saxony. Mention was made also, as 
I recall, of the Griebcs: at all events I knew that this family had 
succeeded to a part of the former Rilke estates; nevertheless you 
mention to me in this connection a whole series of remarkable 
details that were certainly not recorded there. And you point 
out to me too, also concerning the past of the Rilkes, something 
further in the way of tradition; what joy it will mean to me to 
look over things like that with you sometime; there may indeed 
be much that is altogether new to me among them. However, it 
will be almost more important to me to see the countryside itself: 
I think it should bring to awakening something in me that has 
never yet been called upon; after all I have never had a chance to 
visit any of the places (I do not know Carinthia either) which we 
assume belong to our family's past, and hence too have con- 
tributed, with the countless influences of soil and surroundings, to 
its making. . . . 

To Professor Hermann Pongs Chateau de Muzot s/Sierre 

(Valais), Switzerland 
October 21, 1924 

An imminent journey, matters to be wound up and preparations 
in connection with it, compel me to be briefer and to use more 

__ 353 

trite phrases than I otherwise would in dealing with the ideas sug- 
gested to me by your letter and the "questionnaire". 

I must restrict myself to the most factual and then, after filling 
out the answer-side, will start tying in some supplementary 
material with the answers that refer to individual passages in your 
letter or its enclosures. 

First the questionnaire: 

Prague period. Final 
school examination 1 894 

As student in Prague until 
middle of 1896? 

Memories of professors? 
Painting? (Klimt?) 

Perhaps Ernst Mach's 

What impressions were 
behind the strong social 
inclinations that came to 
expression in Wild Chic- 

Wouldn't it be worth 
while to collect and re- 
publish the prose pieces of 
the whole early period? 

"Hoar Frost" 1897 

Without Present 

(Drama) '98 

(or 1895) 


: none at all. Painting played no 
role, except that (very incompe- 
tently) I myself tried my hand at it. 
Klimt? thinnest gilt paper, even at 
that time. 

Have never read philosophers except 
perhaps in those years a few pages 
of Schopenhauer (aversion to that 
sort of systematization). 

The inclination to give away "Wild 
Chicory" may have been not so 
much "social", as rather brotherly 
and human; arising from my having 
myself been cut off from books and 
intellectual connections. 

For reasons I have already indicated 
recently, this early production is 
without lasting value; besides which 
I, like most of those who were first 
carried away by the poem, was in- 
capable of writing even a tolerable 
prose. The proof, that I could let 


Along Life's Way 
(Short Stories) '98 
Two Prague Tales '99 
Everyday Life 1902 
The Last 1902 
About God 1900 
or any others? 

Munich Period. 

How long? Memories of 

modern painting? 

Stay in Italy 1897 

When is the Worpswede 


When the first Russian 

journey? 1899? 

When the second? When 

with Tolstoy? 

When and through what 
did the "White Princess" 
come into being? 

myself go in the "Cornet" to inter- 
mingle these two widely separated 
forms, a tastelessness which for 
years made that little improvisation 
of a single autumn night unendurable 
to me, until finally I again gave it 
credit for the naivete of its youthful 

Munich 1896 till Fall 1897 with in- 

Painting, yes, but wrongly seen, 
from the point of view of subject. 
Uhde, with whom I had the oppor- 
tunity of becoming personally ac- 

First stay in Italy 1897 (after having 
already at the age of eight visited our 
Italian Littoral [Gcirz and surround- 
ings]. Since then have spoken and 
occasionally read the language) . 

First Russian journey 1899; longer 
stay in Russia the following year. 
Called on Tolstoy both times. (1899 
in Moscow, 1900 at Yasnaia Poliana.) 
Learning of Russian between the two 
journeys, without a teacher; reading 
Tolstoy (the great novels). 
Westerwede near Worpswede: resi- 
dence from 1901 to 1902 (from my 
marriage, which provided the reason 
for settling there.) 

Removal to Paris: fall 1902; resi- 
dence there until 1914; with many 
journeys, for example, winter 1904 


When for the first time 

How long with Rodin? 
What French painters 

(Van Gogh?) (Ce- 
zanne? ) 
When in Sweden? 

What came between parts 
I and II of the Book of 
Hours? (1899 and 1901?) 
What between parts II 
and III? (1902 to 1903) 
(in the way of works and 
travels) (study of mysti- 

Is the dense rhymeless 
style of the Requiem de- 
termined by a particular 

What gave the first incen- 
tive to translations? Even 
before 1908? (E. Brown- 

When first acquainted or 
acquainted at all with Sim- 
mel's works? And with 

How (after a four-year 
interval) did the "Life of 
Mary" come about? 

to 1905 (almost a year) Rome. Ap- 
pended to that the months in Copen- 
hagen and Sweden (Skane). 

Between Book of Hours I and II 
therefore came Russia; the 2nd part 
came into being in Westerwede, the 
3rd (coming from Paris) at Viareg- 
gio in Italy, where, in the glorious 
pinete I did a great deal of work. 
Mysticism I read as little as phi- 

The Sonnets of Elizabeth Browning 
were translated in honor of a friend 
who was of English descent on her 
mother's side and loved these poems 
above everything. Sole attempt in 
English, the most remote and alien 
language to me. 

With Georg Simmel I came in con- 
tact only socially (1908-1900) 
[1899-1900]; at that time I was liv- 
ing in Schmargendorf near Berlin. 

The Life of Mary (see letter) 


(1913?) through what im- 
pressions? Perhaps 
through plastic art? 

What impressions pro- 
duced the occult incidents 
in Make? 

Besides Jacobsen is an- 
other prose now also con- 
tributive? (Maeterlinck?) 

What personal impression 
of the late pictures of 
Paula Modersohn? 

Your inner relation to 
things? Relation to Van 

The "occult occurrences" in Make: 
in part accurately recounted experi- 
ences of childhood in Prague, in part 
things experienced and heard in Swe- 
den. Here moreover one of the rea- 
sons why the fictitious figure of M. 
L. Brigge was made a Dane: because 
only in the atmosphere of the Scandi- 
navian countries does the ghost ap- 
pear ranged among the possible ex- 
perieijices and admitted (which 
conforms with my own attitude). 

From the time I read Danish, be- 
sides Jacobsen, Bang; Maeterlinck 
probably too for a time, but not as an 
element contributing to the develop- 
ment of my prose. 

Paula Modersohn I last saw in Paris 
in 1906 and knew little of her works 
of that time or her latest, with which 
even now I am not yet acquainted. 

Only in passing, the great event to 
me in painting was Cezanne, whom 
however I began to study only after 
his death. Previously the great 
French impressionists had had an ef- 
fect, and, in passing, Cottet, Lucien 
Simon, Zuloaga. 

Tolstoy: it would be wrong to attribute to those visits to him 
an influence on my works of that time; ultimately he confirmed 

__ 357 

for me only the discovery of Russia, which was decisive for me. 
His figure was to me the embodiment of a fatality, a misunder- 
standing, and it struck me so by reason of the fact that, for all 
the obstinate injustice this tremendously restless man inflicted 
upon himself and was constantly ready to inflict upon others, that 
(I say) it still affected one as so touchingly protected and valid 
in his desertion of the tasks that were his greatest and at which 
he was most skilled. Only thus could a young person, who had 
already resolved to pursue art all his life long, comprehend that 
contradictory old man, who in himself was working at the con- 
stant repression of what had in the most divine sense been im- 
posed upon him; who disavowed himself with infinite effort right 
into his own blood and never mastered the tremendous forces 
that were inexhaustibly renewing themselves in his repressed 
and denied artistic genius. How high (and pure!) he stood above 
those, the majority in Europe, who, on the contrary, worried all 
their lives about these forces and were determined, by practice 
and falsification (by "literature"), to conceal the occasional 
slackening or defection of their fruitfulness. The meeting with 
Tolstoy (whose moral and religious naivetes exercised no attrac- 
tion whatsoever upon me, shortly before my second trip the 
disgraceful and silly pamphlet What Is Art had in all superfluity 
come into my hands ) so thus strengthened in me precisely the 
opposite of the impression he may have wanted to leave with his 
visitors; infinitely far from bearing out his conscious renuncia- 
tion, I had seen, even into his most unconscious behavior, the 
artist secretly retaining the upper hand, and particularly in view 
of his life filled with refusals, the conception grew within me of 
the positiveness of artistic inspiration and achievement; of its 
power and legitimacy; of the hard glory of being called to some- 
thing like that. 

Only the meeting with Rodin, vouchsafed me two years later, 
and the years of close association with him, could still further 
strengthen this so grandly conceived idea, could bear it out more 
thoroughly. Here an err6r that has become more and more in- 
grained might incidentally be corrected. I was, strictly speaking, 

never (as your question sheet expresses it) "with Rodin", if by 
that a kind of position is meant. When I moved to Paris in 1902, 
Richard Muther had suggested that I write about Rodin; for his 
work (though even then of plastic art little, according to its true 
value, had as yet become significant to me), I seemed prepared, 
inasmuch as my wife has the right to consider herself a pupil of 
Rodin's; through her, who as a young girl had been allowed to 
bring him her weekly work for many months (and later again 
and again) , a turning had been prepared in me: I had become more 
capable of comprehending works of art from the standpoint of 
form and seemed a trace more safeguarded against chance over- 
powerings by mere relations of content, which act upon the un- 
prepared person, even through the most inadequate handling 
of form, if they in any way touch him. At the time I came to 
Paris, one could get to know Rodin's work, with exception of 
the few pieces that even then belonged to the Luxembourg Mu- 
seum, almost only at his own place; so it was natural for me to 
go out often that fall, finally every day to Meudon. Out of our 
from the very beginning quite lively conversations, a real relation- 
ship rapidly developed, the funds for which on the one side my 
gradually increasing admiration sufficiently provided, while to 
meet this self-probing feeling a response grew up on the Master's 
side which, without presumption, even at the end of the first year, 
I might call one of friendship. If journeys kept me away then, 
how often it was an unexpected, sympathetic word from Rodin 
that came to strengthen me in my own work. In 1905 [1904!, 
during my stay at a little Swedish castle in the neighborhood of 
Lund, there reached me from several German and Austrian cities 
invitations to lecture on Rodin; I did not see myself capable of 
completely satisfying these demands without previously coming 
into new contact with his continually growing work, and de- 
cided, in agreement with Rodin, to return to Paris earlier than 
had actually been my intention. To my inquiry whether I should 
find him in Meudon, Rodin had replied in the affirmative, more- 
over with the invitation to lodge this time with him. Scarcely had 
I declined this, when, I remember, a telegram arrived from Rodin's 


secretary which repeated the invitation so pressingly that I had 
no further scruples about accepting. This telegram read: Monsieur 
Rodin y tient, pour pouvoir causer. And so with that began those 
five months when I really was "with Rodin"; first as a guest in his 
house, later, as I did not want to stretch this hospitality further 
without also (my own work, part two of the Rodin book, had 
meanwhile been concluded) being somehow useful to him, when 
I devoted my free time to assisting him with his extensive cor- 
respondence, which was continually far in arrears, I cannot boast 
of the letters I wrote for him at that time. This occupation 
for which my pen, which knows no haste, was not the most apt, 
soon grew up over my head and what was worse it threatened 
to force our association out of its natural course in that it com- 
pelled me often to substitute for our otherwise fluent discussions 
the most irksome reminders of letter-debts and other obligations 
of correspondence, leading of necessity to a distortion of our re- 
lationship, which it was infinitely crucial for me to keep sound 
and fruitful. So by May of the following year I moved back to 
Paris, completely my own master, and my relations with Rodin, 
which had passed into a curious region, fell back into their earlier 
channel which they were then, through the years, to fill in a 
stronger or weaker stream. Here once again ( gathering from your 
questionnaire how much you are further looking about for "in- 
fluences") I will linger and emphasize how far this direct and 
manifold influence of the great sculptor outweighed anything 
that stemmed from literature and in a sense made it superfluous. 
I had the good fortune to meet Rodin in those years when I was 
ripe for my inner decision and when on the other hand the time 
had arrived for him to apply with singular freedom the experi- 
ences of his art upon everything that can be lived. The opposite 
of what I had observed in Tolstoy took place here: A man who 
had assented fully and actively to the inner mission of his creative 
genius, the infinite divine play, was taking possession, by means of 
the insight there acquired, of more than just his art; it looked 
for a while as if everything for which, his hands bound in the 
work, he had been unable to reach, were of its own volition 

3 6o 

giving itself to him as well . . . And so it may be too, not only 
for the artist of highest intent, but for the simple craftsman, if 
only he has once bitten open the kernel of his metier: the in- 
tensity arrived at within his characteristic achievement appropri- 
ates to him (automatically, one might say) everything that is and 
has been which corresponds to the same degree of intensity. 
From thence stems the wonderful wisdom of craftsmen (which 
is being lost), thence the spiritual spaciousness in shepherds' 
souls . . . 

And now (we are not so far from it) the difficult attempt to do 
justice to your striking reflections on "rich" and "poor". The 
turns your letter takes are not entirely intelligible to me, which 
may well be due to my not finding your point of departure, and 
so having to join your thought along the way, without knowing 
from whence it may have started. If it comes from the conception 
of the "social" as it appears to then I must at once assert that 
one would be wrong in classifying any one of my efforts under 
this rubric. Something of a human likemindedness, something 
brotherly is indeed spontaneous in me and must have been laid 
down in my nature, otherwise the liberating of this characteristic 
under the influence of the Russian example would not have moved 
me so deeply and familiarly. But what absolutely differentiates so 
joyous and natural a tendency from the social, as we understand it 
today, is the utter disinclination, even aversion, to changing any- 
one's situation or, as they say, to bettering it. The situation of no 
one in the world is such that it could not be of peculiar use to his 
soul . . . And I must confess that, where I have been required 
to participate in the destiny of others, this above all has always 
been important and urgent to me: to help the person oppressed 
to recognize the peculiar and special conditions of his plight, 
which each time is not so much a consolation as an (at first un- 
apparent) enrichment. It seems to me to create nothing but dis- 
order if the general effort (for that matter an illusion! ) should 
presume schematically to alleviate or remove oppressions, a thing 
which injures the freedom of the other person much more dras- 
tically than does the plight itself, which with indescribable adapta- 

tions and almost tenderly confers upon him who entrusts himself 
to it, indications of how if not outwardly, then inwardly it 
could be escaped . To want to better the situation of a human 
being presupposes an insight into his circumstances such as not 
even the poet possesses concerning a figure of his own invention. 
How much less still the so infinitely excluded helper, whose 
scatteredness becomes complete with his gift. Wanting to change, 
to improve, a person's situation means offering him, for difficulties 
in which he is practiced and experienced, other difficulties that 
will find him perhaps even more bewildered. If at any time I was 
able to pour out into the mold of my heart the imaginary voice 
of the dwarf or the beggar, the metal of this cast was not won 
from the wish that the dwarf or the beggar might have a less dif- 
ficult time; on the contrary, only through an extoling of their 
incomparable destiny could the poet, suddenly bent upon them, 
be true and fundamental, and he would have to fear and avoid 
nothing so much as a corrected world in which the dwarfs are 
stretched and the beggars enriched. The God of completeness sees 
to it that these varieties do not cease, and it would be most super- 
ficial to regard the joy of the poet in this suffering multiplicity 
as an esthetic pretext. So I too have a conscience clear of any 
reproach of having prevaricated if, faced with the concepts 
"rich" and "poor", I unquestioningly claim for my poem the justi- 
fied impartiality of artistic expression. It can never have been my 
intention to play off the poor against the rich or to espouse the 
one with more conviction than the other. But the task may well 
have been set me of measuring poverty and wealth for a while 
with their purest measures, for, even here again, how should one 
not come to praise both when one discerns them rightly. 

In a world which tries to resolve the divine into a kind of 
anonymity, that humanitarian over-estimation must come into 
effect which expects of human aid what it cannot give. And divine 
goodness is so indescribably linked with divine hardness that a 
time which undertakes, in advance of Providence, to dole out the 
former, at the same time also drags forth the oldest stores of 
cruelty among men. (We have experienced it.) 

I have finished; or rather I must decide to do so. Glancing 
over your pages once more, I notice I have still left two points 
unconsidered, or three, or more . . . 

Quickly still to these. (Concerning the letter: ) No, it would 
have little sense for you to lay a Book of Pictures before me for the 
dating of the individual poems and poem-groups; my own mem- 
ory is too unreliable and inadequate here. Most to be recom- 
mended would be a comparison of the first edition with the later 
ones, which would show you what works of later origin were 
little by little taken into the whole. (I am never provided with 
my own books and possess none of these editions to assist you in 
this survey.) 

The origin of the Life of Mary, with which (in the winter of 
1912) I resumed an older tone I had long since got beyond, was 
quite externally conditioned: I learned at that time that Heinrich 
Vogeler, in whose guest-book I had occasionally written Mary 
poems in those Westerwede years, was intending to publish those 
(early) verses with his drawings. To prevent this and at least to 
furnish him, in case he were to stick to his intention (which did 
not happen), with better and more connected texts, I wrote in a 
few days, consciously feeling back, these (except for one or two) 
unimportant poems, for which the painters' book of Mount 
Athos with its picture-legends served as objective support. 

How difficult it often is to make credible the causes out of 
which a poem arises! You ask about the "White Princess". At 
Viareggio, I lived in a big villa facing the sea with a stately garden. 
In this there appeared, while I was standing at the window one 
afternoon, a friar collecting for his brotherhood, the white hood 
drawn before his face; he evidently did not dare enter the house 
but, in expectation of making his presence felt, kept at some 
distance on the garden path. Now whether he noticed me at one 
of the tall windows or not, the fear seized me that the uncanny 
stranger with the veiled face might take my slightest movement 
for a sign and enter. And from this fear I fell into a strange, 
paralyzing numbness. Moreover on the same evening (something 
which makes the day unforgettable to me) a dachshund belonging 

to the house died; that morning I had been surprised to find the 
animal, which was friendly with me and otherwise disposed to 
be playful and interested, sitting close up to the house, motion- 
less, his long face turned as if in boundless meditation to the 
wall . . . 

Mustn't we be (you say it yourself) strangely constituted if 
from these two occasions, lifting itself up by them as it were, a 
year later, the poem could come into being that is called "The 
White Princess"? 

And now, as a real close, a greeting to your little four-year- 
old son who has accorded my name the most beautiful and most 
direct recognition. This "poem" has the virtue of being short; 
should he ever want to memorize it, I would prefer for this effort 
the expression they have for it in French: qu'il le saurait "par 

See whether his spontaneous "conjuration" has brought you in 
something serviceable and elucidating, and continue to regard 
me as 

Yours sincerely, 

R. M. Rilke 

Postscript, the following day: 

I am making use, dear Dr. Pongs, of this remaining fourteenth 
page to append one more contribution to the theme of "rich and 
poor". The little incident here reported (the greatness of which 
for the rest one may judge for oneself) expresses what my per- 
sonal attitude would be, if I were to give thought to it, so com- 
pletely and so validly that I should have nothing to add to it. 

Does. the name Jtrnmersimnde (Danish, translated by the ex- 
pression "memory of suffering") remind you of anything? These 
are the journals, very widely circulated in Denmark, even taken 
up in schools, of Countess Leonora Christina Ulfeldt, a daughter 
of King Christian IV, drawn up for her children and grand- 
children during her twenty-six-year imprisonment in the blue 
tower of Copenhagen. Her husband, Imperial Steward Korfitz 
Ulfeldt, charged with high treason, had managed to save himself 

in time by his flight to the Tirol; the Danish government deemed 
it in order to assure itself at least of the Countess, who remained 
loyal to Ulfeldt. She was at the English court seeking help for 
her husband. There they knew how to reach her and on some 
pretext or other to invite her onto a Danish ship where she be- 
lieved herself to be a guest while in reality she was already the 
prisoner of her custodian. Into this moment is to be set the little 
scene which is reported in the introduction to Jammer sminde (in 
the Danish edition at least). One of the younger officers of the 
ship, in his youthful zeal, thought he would advance himself when 
he prematurely approached the still unsuspecting Countess and 
respectf ullly but definitely demanded the jewelry she was wearing 
on her person. One can imagine the astonishment of the person 
thus addressed. It cannot have been quite easy for the young 
lieutenant to sustain with grace the look his covetousness brought 
him. But then the beautiful and stately lady who, in accordance 
with the mode of the time, was richly adorned with jewels and 
chains, stepped up to the mirror of her cabin and slowly, without 
haste, one after the other, removed the rings, the pendants, the 
brooches, the bracelets and earrings that piled up, warm and 
heavy, in the frightenedly outspread hands of the officer. When, 
already quite uncertain, he went with this royal booty before his 
commandant, the latter's surprise and finally his rage knew no 
bounds. He did not doubt that his secret intentions were now dis- 
covered and the whole bold undertaking had miscarried. Flaring 
up at his lieutenant with the hardest words, he refused all respon- 
sibility and left it to the unfortunate man to make good his ar- 
bitrary and disastrous rashness , he could find out for himself 
how! Pale, trembling, the fabulous abundance even yet on his over- 
laden hands, the annihilated officer again appeared before the tall 
lady. Stood, stammering . . . She left him, regally, for a suitable 
moment in his state of despair, but only (though she must really 
have understood all that would follow) to step again to her mirror 
and, slowly, as if from the hands of a servant, to take and put 
on the manifold trinkets with precisely the same serenity she had 

_____ _ 3*5 

previously shown in giving them away, and already absorbed in 
her reflection as it festively completed itself again in the glass. 

P.S. Reading over my pages, though it is superfluous (for you 
already, I think, understand me correctly) I would nevertheless 
like to have noted down one thing more: I am never giving 
judgments here of the manifestations and things you questioned 
me about, but am showing them, most one-sidedly in the perspec- 
tive of the digressions from them that I may at times have made. 
As "judgment" most of it (for instance the Tolstoy item) would 
be awry and laughable. But it was a question here of the ex- 
planation of a specific situation interesting you at the moment 
(which for that matter makes me ashamed of taking it so seri- 
ously) . I have tried my utmost to satisfy your wishes and am once 
more, as already yesterday, your: 


To Clara Rilke Bellevue Palace & Bernerhof , Bern 

November 17, 1924 

Your last letter reached me here on September 2 ist , and now 
I am writing you for the 2 ist of November: two months! I don't 
quite know how it could get to be so long, or I know only in part: 
somehow it paralyzed me that I should be unable to fulfill your 
financial wish this time, and from that there arose a first little 
silence that further circumstances came to extend. Once again 
I was on bad terms with my letter pen and had not a good period 
in other ways either, indeed as far as I can recall, the remainder of 
this summer and the fall has been one of my worst and inwardly 
most difficult times. This at first from the physical . . . ; but 
somehow it then becomes scarcely possible to distinguish whether 
a physical indisposition is disturbing the free movements of the 
soul, or whether these, in their standstill, are holding the in- 
disposition fast. In short, there were not-good weeks, one after 
;,he other. My second Ragaz visit I had given up, partly because 


too much miscellaneous writing had awaited me at Muzot , 
also it bothered me to leave house and roses so soon again; from 
Ragaz came word that it was overrun with visitors, and, in con- 
trast to the beginning of the season, full of unpleasant people. 
And finally, I hoped by this renunciation to lay by something for 
a that much greater mobility later on, secretly counting on start- 
ing for Paris around October 15. Of that, as you see, nothing 
came either. I did not feel well and active enough, sat the time 
away in Muzot where, by way of compensation for the scarcely 
favorable summer, there were three truly radiant weeks in which 
the Wallis was itself again. Work too progressed in many direc- 
tions: I wrote down for my own pleasure a little volume of Wallis 
verses, "Quatrains Valaisans", in which one or another experience 
of this landscape lightly took shape, and in addition a whole little 
cycle, "Les Roses", likewise French. All that only like cake- 
baking; but then quickly (while for ten days and really for quite 
other writing purposes I had a secretary) there came into being 
the first provisional version of a translation of Valery's mag- 
nificent Eupalinos dialogue, from which you will get much that 
is close and significant to you, when sometime you can read it in 
my version. So, for all the despondency, the time has not been 
badly handled, but I miss Paris extraordinarily, I am just noticing 
now how firmly I had counted on getting there , and I still 
have left a little hope of going thither, regardless of the now al- 
ready rather late season. I discovered in myself a lively need of 
meeting quite new people and of coming into contact with new 
circles , a result probably of the long-observed, complete soli- 
tude. From Paris I would certainly bring with me a hundred 
reasons for wanting this state again which has indeed nothing 
forced about it for me, and new means of making use of it. Two 
weeks ago I saw my doctor in Val-Mont who even recommended 
the trip , but then there was again a series of bad days, and 
finally a whole complication of dental disorders on which ac- 
count I went Tuesday to Bern, and with the overcoming of which 
I am just now absorbed, for two days what is more with a swollen 

cheek, which spares me from explaining to Bern acquaintances 
what has brought me here. 

There, dear Clara, you have a brief summary of my recent 
history; it is just about complete if I record one more ruthless 
encroachment that has grieved and upset me. Farmers, to whom 
it belonged, quite unexpectedly, on the morning of October 15, 
felled the beautiful old poplar at the crossroads in front of Muzot, 
simply because they found that the roots of the tree were im- 
poverishing their meadows at the borders of which it stood. I got 
up late that day and came too late to save the beautiful tree: I 
would have been able to, I learned later , and that now makes 
the destruction all the more painful to me. The landscape, you 
can imagine, has been much changed thereby , that strong ver- 
tical drew it upward and gave it lift and lineage. Even here I 
am haunted now and then by the sadness that such an alteration 
creates in one. But now it is difficult to make a birthday letter 
out of all this. Well, you see and feel that I remember the date, 
and our meeting is added to that to assure you that on the zist 
I shall get up with heartfelt and strong wishes for you . . . 

C 2*4*1 
Dory von der Muhll Hotel Foyot, Paris 

January 17, 1925 

To you, above all, I must announce that now (at last! ) I am 
here. In Paris: whither I believed myself to be on the way since 
the middle of October, detained by one annoyance after another. 
I came directly from Val-Mont and on a sudden decision to con- 
vert the attention which there without much success I had 
to direct upon my condition, into a brusque opposite: namely 
to ignore it, to disregard it entirely. Perhaps that will be of more 
help, since the other method has failed. Wavering and unsure 
from the long indecision, the much lying down, the baths , I 
made my first outings here, in the vehemence of the streets and 
the turmoil of the street crossings feeling like the wretched cam- 


pagnard I have become it seems from my long Muzot. And 
my first encounter, at a coiffeur's by the Madeleine, was with 
your brother who, from his seat, could recognize me in three 
mirrors. That gave me, at my debut, a feeling of security, to 
know he is here; now indeed he has moved over to the rive droite, 
but I feel him present and accessible, that does me good. . . . 

Which was your room in the Foyot? The rooms have already 
been quite worn with use and occupancy since 1920, when I found 
them immediately after restoration; mine leaves much to be 
desired in the way of proprete, but nevertheless I cannot make 
up my mind to go elsewhere. I hope to be here at least through 
January. . . . 

Valery is full of friendship for me. Have you read the October 
number of Wissen und Leben which was the first to publish a 
few of my translations with the text of the original facing 
them? . . . 

To Anton Kippenberg Hotel Foyot, 33 rue de Tournon, 

Paris VI 
February 12, 1925 

It was a real blessing for me that my letter found you still 
in the midst of the "Insel", and I thank you for all the active look- 
ing into my affairs that you promptly did out of the fullness of 
your friendly readiness. The Kreditanstalt has already notified 
me of the extraordinary increase in my account, and I am happy to 
have at my disposal for the immediate future some resources 
which allow me to make things here more comfortably mine. For 
the rest (I must rectify) it is not so, Paris could not have altered 
essentially. The conditions of its greatness seem to be so basic 
and constant that again and again something extreme and un- 
surpassable seems to emerge from them as from the root, and I 
recognize continually what caused me bliss and dismay years ago, 
and in the face of it am experiencing the being no less overpow- 
ered. At most the current that flows over these essentials has 

become thicker, more ruthless, more hurried (but beneath it the 
outlasting nature of this incomparable city is conserving itself all 
the more secretly). If, for hours now and then, I have to grant 
the change, it is because this time I myself occasionally drift along 
in this superficial current , but how gladly I sever myself from 
it, to belong to the other Paris that is still the Paris of Villon or 
Charles-Louis Philippe, the Paris of Gerard de Nerval and Baude- 
laire, that complete Paris which, in the infinite spirituality of its 
space, comes into all its heritage and includes in itself all vibra- 
tions: the only city that could become a landscape of life and 
death beneath the exhaustless affirmation of its magnanimous and 
weightless skies . . . 


To Lou Andreas-Salome (transcript from the Notebook) 

"Later he thought he remembered certain moments in which 
the strength of this one was already contained, as in the seed. He 
thought of the hour in that other southern garden (Capri), when 
a bird-call was there, both in the outside and in his inner being, 
concordantly, so to say, since it did not break at the boundary 
of his body, but formed of the two together an uninterrupted 
space in which, mysteriously protected, only one single spot of 
purest, deepest consciousness remained. At that time he had 
closed his eyes in order not to be confused in so magnanimous an 
experience by the contour of his body, and the infinite passed over 
into him from all sides so trustfully that he might believe he felt 
in his breast the light reposing of the stars that had meantime 
entered there. 

"It came to him again too how much it meant to him, leaning 
in a similar posture against a fence, to become aware of the starry 
sky through the mild branchings of an olive tree, how f acelike in 
this mask the universe confronted him, or how, when he bore 
such awareness long enough, everything passed so completely 
into the clear solution of his heart that the savor of creation was 
in his being. He thought it possible that such abandonments might 

be recalled as far back as his opaque childhood: he had only to be 
reminded of the passion that had always seized him when it came 
to exposing himself to the storm, how, striding over great plains, 
excited in his innermost soul, he broke through the wind-wall 
continually renewed by himself, or standing forward on a ship, 
blindly let himself be carried on through dense distances that 
closed more tightly behind him. But if, from the beginning, the 
elemental rushing of the air, the water's pure and manifold be- 
havior, and whatever was heroic in the procedure of the clouds, 
moved him beyond measure indeed, quite like fate took posses- 
sion of his soul who had never been able to grasp such things in 
the human he could not fail to see that now, since the most re- 
cent influences, he was as though conclusively committed to such 
relationships. Something gently dividing maintained between him 
and other people a pure, almost shining interspace, through which 
indeed single things could be handed over, but which sucked up 
every relationship into itself and, overfilled with it, like murky 
smoke deceived one figure with another. He did not yet know 
how far this isolation impressed itself on others. As concerned him- 
self, it alone granted him a certain freedom toward people, the 
little beginning of poverty, by which he was the lighter, gave him 
among those whose hopes and cares lay in each other, who were 
bound ih life and death, a peculiar flexibility of his own. The 
temptation was still in him to hold out his lightness to their 
weightedness, though he already perceived how he deluded them 
in this, since they could not know that he had arrived at his kind 
of self -conquest, not (like the hero) in all their ties, not in the 
heavy air of their hearts, but outside, in a spaciousness so little 
adapted to humanity that they would not call it anything but 
"empty". The only thing with which he might turn to them was 
perhaps his simplicity; it was reserved for him to speak to them 
of joy, where he found them too much caught up in the op- 
posites of happiness, also to impart to them perhaps single things 
out of his intercourse with Nature, things they missed or took only 
incidentally into consideration." 


To Witold von Hllleimcz Muzot sur Sierre ( Valais) 

November 10, 1925 

I do not like doing anything, whatever it may be, in a hurry, but 
this time I ran through your questionnaire, pressed by the enor- 
mous lateness and all the other equally enormous arrears by which 
I have been besieged since my return ... In the Malte there 
can be no question of specifying and detaching the manifold 
evocations. The reader should not be in communication with their 
historical or imaginary reality, but through them with Make's 
experience: who is himself involved with them only as, on the 
street, one might let a passer-by, might let a neighbor, say, impress 
one. The connection lies in the circumstance that the particular 
characters conjured up register the same vibration-rate of vital 
intensity that vibrates in Make's own nature; as for instance Ibsen 
(let us say Ibsen, for who knows whether he really felt that 
way . . . ? ) or a playwright of yesterday seeks out visible evi- 
dences of the happening that has become invisible to us, so young 
M. L. Brigge too longs to make life, which is continually with- 
drawing into the invisible, intelligible to himself through evoca- 
tions and images; these he finds now in his own childhood memo- 
ries, now in his Paris surroundings, now in the reminiscences of 
his wide reading. And all that, wherever it may be experienced, 
has the same valency for him, the same duration and presentness. 
Malte is not in vain the grandson of old Count Brahe who regarded 
everything, past as well as to come, simply as "present"; thus 
Malte too regards as present those stores of his spirit derived from 
three ways of receiving: his period of distress and the great period 
of distress of the Avignon popes, where everything broke out 
externally that now turns fatally inward, are equated: it is of no 
consequence to know more of what is evoked than just what the 
searchlight of his heart lets one recognize. They are historical 
figures or characters of his own past, but vocabula of his distress: 
that too is why one should now and then let pass a name that is 
not further elucidated, like a bird voice in this nature of his in 

37* _ 

which the inner wind-stillnesses are more perilous than the storms. 

That is why it could only become confusing to set forth more 
specifically the merely indicated figures; let each find references 
for thejn in his own way, and whoever is unable to do so will still 
be sufficiently informed by the tension of these anonymi- 
ties. . . * 

This book is to be accepted, not taken-in in detail. Only so will 
everything come to its right emphasis and overlapping. I wish 
you could await the French translation before you impart your 
final "Imprimatur" to the Polish text. It will be thoroughly 
responsible, and would, with the unambiguousness and logic of 
that language, perhaps serve you in helping to make clear the 
meaning of single places that are still further questionable and 
especially the word-relationships. There, I believe, it will not be 
possible to misunderstand a number of things that were dark to 
you in the German. I have great confidence in this French version, 
which was to be out before Christmas. (You will get the volume 
anyway, as soon as it appears.) 

I must now quickly to other things! 

In closing, take the hand offered you in spirit with all friend- 
ship and always the best thanks for your loyalty<and effort. 

To Witold von Huleivicz [postmarked Sierrc, 

November 13, 1925] 

. . . And am / the one to give the Elegies their proper ex- 
planation? They reach out infinitely beyond me. I regard them 
as a further elaboration of those essential premises that were 
already given in the Book of Hours, that in the two parts of the 
New Poems tentatively played with the image of the world and 
that then in the Malte, contracted in conflict, strike back into life 
and there almost lead to the proof that this life so suspended in 
the bottomless is impossible. In the Elegies, starting from the same 
postulates, life becomes possible again, indeed, it experiences here 
that ultimate affirmation to which young Malte, though on the 


difficult right path "des longues etudes", was as yet unable to 
conduct it. Affirmation of life-AND-death appears as one in the 
"Elegies". To grant one without the other is, so it is here learned 
and celebrated, a limitation which in the end shuts out all that is 
infinite. Death is the side of life averted from us, unshone upon 
by us: we must try to achieve the greatest consciousness of our 
existence which is at home in both unbounded realms, inex- 
haustibly nourished ]rom both . . . The true figure of life ex- 
tends through both spheres, the blood of the mightiest circulation 
flows through both: there is neither a here nor a beyond, but the 
great unity in which the beings that surpass us, the "angels", are 
at home. And now the place of the love problem, in this world 
extended by its greater half, in this world only now whole, only 
now sound. I am amazed that the Sonnets to Orpheus, which are 
at least as "difficult", filled with the same essence, are not more 
helpful to you in the understanding of the Elegies. These latter 
were begun in 1912 (at Duino), continued in Spain and Paris 
fragmentarily until 1914; the War interrupted this my greatest 
work altogether; when in 1922 I ventured to take them up again 
(here), the new elegies and their conclusion were preceded, in a 
few days, by the Sonnets to Orpheus, which imposed themselves 
tempestuously (and which had not been in my plan). They are, 
as could not have been otherwise, of the same "birth" as the 
Elegies, and their springing up, without my willing it, in con- 
nection with a girl who had died young, moves them even closer 
to the source of their origin: this connection being one more 
relation toward the center of that realm whose depth and in- 
fluence we share, everywhere unboundaried, with the dead and 
those to come. We of the here and now are not for a moment 
hedged in the time-world, nor confined within it; we are inces- 
santly flowing over and over to those who preceded us, to our 
origins and to those who seemingly come after us. In that greatest 
"open" world all are, one cannot say "simultaneous", for the very 
falling away of time determines that they all are. Transiency 
everywhere plunges into a deep being. And so all the configura- 
tions of the here and now are to be used not in a time-bound way 


only, but, as far as we are able, to be placed in those superior 
significances in which we have a share. But not in the Christian 
sense (from which I am more and more passionately moving 
away), but, in a purely earthly, deeply earthly, blissfully earthly 
consciousness, we must introduce what is here seen and touched 
into the wider, into the widest orbit. Not into a beyond whose 
shadow darkens the earth, but into a whole, into the 'whole. 
Nature, the things of our intercourse and use, are provisional and 
perishable; but they are, as long as we are here, our property and 
our friendship, co-knowers of our distress and gladness, as they 
have already been the familiars of our forbears. So it is important 
not only not to run down and degrade all that is here, but just 
because of its provisionalness, which it shares with us, these phe- 
nomena and things should be understood and transformed by us 
in a most fervent sense. Transformed? Yes, for it is our task to 
imprint this provisional, perishable earth so deeply, so patiently 
and passionately in ourselves that its reality shall arise in us again 
"invisibly". We are the bees of the invisible. Nous butinons 
eperdument le miel du visible, pour Vaccwnuler dans la grande 
ruche d*or de flnvisible. The Elegies show us at this work, at the 
work of these continual conversions of the beloved visible and 
tangible into the invisible vibrations and excitation of our own 
nature, which introduces new vibration-frequencies into the 
vibration-spheres of the universe. (Since different elements in 
the cosmos are only different vibration-exponents, we prepare for 
ourselves in this way not only intensities of a spiritual nature but 
also, who knows, new bodies, metals, nebulae and constellations.) 
And this activity is curiously supported and urged on by the ever 
more rapid fading away of so much of the visible that will no 
longer be replaced. Even for our grandparents a "house", a "well", 
a familiar tower, their very clothes, their coat: were infinitely 
more, infinitely more intimate; almost everything a vessel in 
which they found the human and added to the store of the human. 
Now, from America, empty indifferent things are pouring across, 
sham things, dummy life ... A house, in the American sense, 
an American apple or a grapevine over there, has nothing in com- 


mon with the house, the fruit, the grape into which went the 
hopes and reflections of our forefathers . . . Live things, things 
lived and conscient of us, are running out and can no longer be 
replaced. We are perhaps the last still to have known such things. 
On us rests the responsibility not alone of preserving their memory 
(that would be little and unreliable), but their human and laral 
value. ("Laral" in the sense of the household gods.) The earth 
has no way out other than to become invisible: in us who with a 
part of our natures partake of the invisible, have (at least) stock 
in it, and can increase our holdings in the invisible during our 
sojourn here, in us alone can be consummated this intimate 
and lasting conversion of the visible into an invisible no longer 
dependent upon being visible and tangible, as our own destiny 
continually grows at the same time MORE PRESENT AND 
INVISIBLE in us. The elegies set up this norm of existence: 
they assure, they celebrate this consciousness. They cautiously fit 
it into its traditions, in that they claim for this supposition ancient 
traditions and rumors of traditions and even in the Egyptian cult 
of the dead evoke a foreknowledge of such relationships. (Al- 
though the "Land of Lamentation" through which the older 
"lamentation" leads the young dead is not to be identified with 
Egypt, but is only, in a sense, a mirrorjng of the Nile country 
in the desert clarity of the consciousness of the dead.) When one 
makes the mistake of holding up to the Elegies or Sonnets Catholic 
conceptions of death, of the beyond and of eternity, one is getting 
entirely away from their point of departure and preparing for 
oneself a more and more basic misunderstanding. The "angel" of 
the elegies has nothing to do with the angel of the Christian 
heaven (rather with the angel figures of Islam) . . . The angel 
of the Elegies is that creature in whom the transformation of the 
visible into the invisible, which we are accomplishing, appears al- 
ready consummated. For the angel of the Elegies all past towers 
and palaces are existent, because long invisible, and the still stand- 
ing towers and bridges of our existence already invisible, although 
(for us) still persisting physically. The angel of the Elegies is 
that being who vouches for the recognition in the invisible of a 

376 _ 

higher order of reality. Hence "terrible" to us, because we, its 
lovers and transformers, do still cling to the visible. All the 
worlds of the universe are plunging into the invisible as into their 
next deepest reality; a few stars immediately intensify and pass 
away in the infinite consciousness of the angels , others are 
dependent upon beings who slowly and laboriously transform 
them, in whose terrors and ecstasies they attain their next invisible 
realization. We are, let it be emphasized once more, in the sense of 
the Elegies, we are these transformers of the earth; our entire 
existence, the flights and -plunges of our love, everything qualifies 
us for this task (beside which there exists, essentially, no other). 
(The Sonnets show details from this activity which here appears 
placed under the name and protection of a dead girl whose in- 
completion and innocence holds open the gate of the grave so 
that, gone from us, she belongs to those powers that keep the one 
half of life fresh and open toward the other wound-open half.) 
Elegies and Sonnets support each other constantly , and I see an 
infinite grace in the fact that, with the same breath, I was per- 
mitted to fill both these sails: the little rust-colored sail of the 
Sonnets and the Elegies' gigantic white canvas. 

May you, dear friend, perceive here some advice and elucida- 
tion and, for the rest, help yourself along. For: I do not know 
whether I ever could say more . . . 

To Clara Rilke Chateau de Muzot sur Sierre (Valais) 

November 17, 1925 

. . . where will your birthday be celebrated? I had better send 
off these lines somewhat ahead of time in case they should have 
to follow you somewhere; and I almost wish they would have to 
do that, preferably to Ruth and Christine, where everyone would 
make you feel your birthday most naturally and warmly. 

From me, dear Clara, come all good wishes: the beautiful and 
good thing with you is that one feels how you will interpret and 
use them in a right sense: determined as you are to see and affirm 


the good in everything, you cannot help regarding good wishes 
as something very good. Please, do so with reference to this im- 
pulse of mine which I hope, despite my persistent silence, you 
may feel and love. 

Yes, I have been silent, silent for a long time, in all directions, 
Ruth indeed was made to feel this behavior amply too. It seems as 
though one's fiftieth year did signify a kind of crisis; for me in 
any case it will have been one, the most fundamental of my life; 
I do not yet see how and where I shall get out beyond it. But 
since nothing stands still and remains as it is, that cannot but be 
found. I can in no way express myself about what is insurmount- 
ably difficult for me, it comes from the side of my health which 
seems more centrally affected than the doctors have hitherto been 
willing to recognize. But probably I am also meeting this in- 
creasing fact with the falsest attitude: instead of seeing bright, as 
you have learned to do, I see black, and that throws confusion and 
gloom over everything. But enough, enough of this outpouring, so 
thoroughly inappropriate in a birthday letter and, besides, after 
so long a silence on my part, not exactly comprehensible. 

Ruth had for a moment the sweet thought of paying me a quick 
visit while I was in Ragaz; it was, you can imagine, not easy for 
me to say no: but finally I had to: in Ragaz they were already 
closing, staying in the completely empty hotel was not com- 
fortable, besides which for Ruth I would after all like to be really 
gay and quite mysetf: toward that I am working and so it will 
come to pass, I hope in the not too distant future, that I can some- 
time call the children here. I read with great regret that their 
move to Liebau is possibly impending, what a pity, what a pity 
about the good old house at Alt-Jocketa behind its magnificent 
chestnut trees! 

So read here above all my good thoughts and wishes and take 
them, aside from the state of mind out of which they rather murk- 
ily proceed, purely from heart to heart! 

To Anton Kippenberg Chateau de Muzot sur Sierre (Valais) 

December 7, 1925 

My dear, good friend Kippenberg, 

My telegram has told you how much both of you were in- 
cluded, from its first hour on, in the day people wanted to cele- 
brate for me. You actually opened it for me when, coming down 
into the dining room for breakfast, I was really overwhelmed by 
a big basket of most beautiful cyclamens standing on the deep 
window seat in the pure winter sun, a rose-colored island of joy! 
It came, in a way at first incomprehensible to me, from you: dis- 
covering with it your joint card and at the same time learning 
that the Bellevue had just sent it up, I fell upon my coffee: for I 
thought, for the beginning of a moment, that, hurrying down, 
I could in a half hour embrace you there, in Sierre. But there 
beside my cup lay piles of letters and among the first your hand- 
writing, which then, alas, restored distance by assuring me in an- 
other way of your loyal presence. 

It is, my dear friend, the value of a day like this that one may 
receive a few wishes that accord, in impulse and direction, with 
one's own inner wishings. How much your wishes and those of 
the Mistress belong to this rare group, I do not have to prove to 
you. Without this validity of understanding would we have come 
to such retrospects as these into which you let me gaze (as through 
the certain little hole of a birthday penholder) : 25 years of Insel- 
association and 20 years of mutual personal trust : I lingered 
gratefully and attentively before these perspectives, and the deep 
vistas in the imaginary penholder, held against the light, were not 
lacking in clear and endearing details, to which something best 
and most enduring was inviolably attached. 

On the same fourth I received also the rest of what you sent: 
the Iwelschiff above all, which, so richly pennanted and laden, 
sails this time under my flag , the requested Valery volumes 
(together with Bertram) and the little word that came so quickly 
to consider and fulfill my business queries. Effectively and vitally 


as you always reply to it, my trust can never turn into mere 
habit: it is always a new act, the most recent gesture of a feeling 
that as a whole has become great. A basic feeling, dear friend, 
dear friends, and heavy or light, as life may bring it, I give myself 
over to the durability of your friendship. 



P.S. I still haven't by a long shot looked through all that has 
arrived; quite a large basket, once procured for one of our apple 
harvests, goes on filling up with correspondence and telegrams; I 
shall be able to answer only the smallest part. There caught my 
eye, decked out with numerous signatures, a big communication 
from the "German Department" of the University of Edinburgh. 

To Bcrta Tlamm Muzot sur Sierre (Valais), Switzerland 

December 9, 1925 

Your letter has just reached me, I thank you for having written 
it. The privilege of giving joy is conferred more rarely than one 
thinks, partly in consequence of our so rigid inability to receive, 
partly because the imprecision and vagueness between people, 
that may always have been a hindrance, has in perplexing times 
still further increased. Finally even the most appropriate gift 
still requires an extreme adaptation on the part of the recipient, 
but where the giving is "in keeping" this achievement belongs 
right in with the natural gesture of those on whom gifts are be- 

That some things from my books have been able to benefit 
one so sorely afflicted speaks much more for him, for your son, 
than for the books: how easily he could have denied and closed 
himself to them. But (as you let me see) he has consolidated the 
victory in himself, the most difficult and secret victory, which 
consists in little by little, from a place in life most painfully con- 
tested and circumscribed, nevertheless reaffirming all of that 


somehow innocent life! This indescribably secure achievement 
will have its reward in him and in you, his mother and his 
brother, who were both there to back up his fight. Since the 
great pure linking of his heart and his spirit seems to have been 
rescued, the measure of all his relationships will now be so special 
and personal a one that, in certain moments of indescribable 
being-included, he will almost have something of an advantage 
over those who achieve their participation out of more ordinary 
and easier conditions. These few lines, intended for all of you 
together, but especially for your patient, merely repeat, con- 
jecturally, what he already knows and lives! 

And so I send him and you my greetings. One or two books I 
hope to send along shortly; very busy, I cannot at the moment 
tell what things of mine are here. These lines, at least, should be 
with you quickly. 

To Arthur Fischer-Colbrie Chateau de Muzot sur Sicrre 

(Valais) Switzerland 
December 18, 1925 

So I thank you for a sympathy that, straight and strong as it is, 
is the outcome of such long experience with my books: Your let- 
ter was full of evidences of true interest, how should I not want 
to answer it with equally true thanks. 

I never read what my works call forth among the critics in the 
way of opinions, either in newspapers or periodicals: these voices 
do not seem to me to belong among those reactions that I would 
have to take into consideration again: also they are indeed 
destined altogether for the reader and must, as you yourself men- 
tion, reckon with his resources. However (as I was laying it with 
the rest of its kind) my glance fell on the first lines of your article. 
Let me, in confidence, clear up what you were impelled to point 
out there. 

To President Masaryk I offered my respects, not this time in- 
deed, but on an earlier occasion, through his Bern representative 

of that time: this feeling existed long before the revolutions of 
1918 raised him to that more conspicuous position; how could I 
help feeling called upon to give approval when a man of universal 
intellectual significance assumed the topmost place in my native 
country, from which I am sufficiently detached to be loyal, in- 
dependently, to its particular destinies. 

As to the other point: I have lived since 1921 in an old tower 
of this French canton; Switzerland in general, its soil, the relation- 
ships that have supported me here, and not least the event of the 
grandiose landscape of the Wallis to which I have become more 
deeply attached with every year: all these facts together con- 
stitute that which, after the evil interruptedness and all the 
confusion of the war years, has become a salvation of my life and 
of my work. I cannot enumerate the individual circumstances 
that make my being taken in here seem the most marvelous dis- 
pensation, but it is easier to prove that it has been the most pro- 
ductive. One has only to consider that the Elegies (begun at the 
war-destroyed Castle of Duino in 1912, continued fragmentarily 
until August 1914 in Spain and in Paris . . .) had been left inter- 
rupted by the external circumstances into which the fortunes 
of wartime had plunged me and even more through my inner 
torpor; nowhere but here, in the Wallis, a country then com- 
pletely unknown to me, could such a store of unforseeable sup- 
ports have been assembled: for here took place, and everything 
was conducive to it, in the rigorous solitude of the winter of 
1921-22, the reuniting I scarcely hoped for any more with the 
breaks in my work of 1914, and it was so clean and so passionate, 
and at the same time of such mildness in the healing together, that 
out of a few weeks of indescribable devotion the whole of the 
Elegies arose as if it had never been broken off, even gone rigid 
in its separate pieces. That a person who through the wretched 
harassings of those years had felt himself split to the roots, into an 
Aforetime and a dying Now not to be united with it: that such a 
person should experience the grace of perceiving how in yet more 
mysterious depths, beneath this gaping rift, the continuity of his 
work and his soul re-established itself . . . , seems to me more than 

just a private event; for with it a gauge is given of the inexhaustible 
stratification of our nature, and how many, who for one reason 
or another believe themselves cleft apart, might draw from this 
example of possible continuation a singular comfort. 

(The thought readily suggests itself that this comfort too may 
somehow have entered into the achievement of the great Elegies, 
so that they express themselves more completely than they could 
have done without endangerment and rescue.) 

Enough: out of all this should be understood merely that I have 
remained bound in a special way to this landscape in which I have 
met with the fullness of grace. Although I had seldom before 
become resonant through incentives of environment , but here 
my glad and lively joining, together with the complete seclusion 
of my life, brought with it my setting down verses in the language 
which surrounds me and which is not accidentally that of these 
hill vineyards, the series of those "Quatrains Valaisans" around 
which other French poems, in most irrefusable dictation, have 
gradually arranged themselves. I saw no reason to ward off this 
spontaneous resonance that imposed itself on me in all purity, nor 
yet to resist when later, in Paris, it was proposed that I fill a little 
book with these examples of a happy inspiration. I was glad to give 
back to the country this most native gift in return for its eager 
and rescuing hospitality: with this is told the story of that "writ- 
ing in French" which, as I learned little by little from various 
rumors, had occasioned such curious interpretations on the part 
of the public. It is enacted, this most incidental story, on quite dif- 
ferent stages of the spirit from those they wanted to assign to it. 

I know (to come back to your article) that you took up that 
version of the "discord" only for the sake of "accord", because 
this was after all the easiest insight that could perhaps be made 
attainable to the reader. Yet at this price particularly, I would 
least like to be more considerately handled. I know nothing of 
any discord, any more than I have ever known of any disapproval, 
any "disapproving attitude of German literary circles". My work 
was dependent upon such reactions to a certain unavoidable de- 
gree only when I first published. Even at twenty-three, at the 

_ 383 

time of the Book of Hours, I ceased bothering about applause or 
disapproval, and since then individual voices at most have reached 
me which, whether they applauded or rejected or were unde- 
cided, work back into life and (unlike mere criticism) are resolved 
in it. I would be in a sad way if in my fiftieth year, in the domain 
of my art, I permitted anything to appear out of disillusionment or 
"rancune", and it is the strangest misunderstanding that this 
suspicion so foreign to my nature should happen to throw its sul- 
len shadow on the producing of those French poems, which for 
me signifies the brightest happiest having-been-given! 

Do you think that by such "helps" the reader will become more 
capable of dealing with my books? But that is not meant as a re- 
proach to you. Only you yourself, in view of your relationship to 
me, you yourself, that is what matters to me, should be among 
those who know better, those who truly know with me. The 
suspicion has crossed my mind that you too believed a bit in the 
possibility of a (how shall I say) revenge: well, that would be 
taking this innocent and spontaneous product, which I have with 
astonishment and delight seen appear out of, my being's mystery, 
far too seriously and besides (how much!) misjudging it and me 

Straighten this out (with yourself) 
and my grateful greetings: 

Rainer Maria Rilke 

P.S.: In Linz of course no one could give "information" about 
me; the unhappy months spent there comprise a time when I was 
quite unrecognizable to myself: how very much then I must have 
been so to others! 

To Georg Reinhart Chateau de Muzot sur Sierre (Valais) 

December 19, 1925 

The "real" simply has a quite indescribable advantage over all 
that is invented and inventable: where the latter projects pos- 
sibilities into imaginary space and so furthers and in a sense trains 


and exercises our imagination , this otherwise so stimulating abil- 
ity yields, relaxes before the evidences with which the consum- 
mated overtakes it, and yet feels no offense: for how much it 
participated in the living achievement in which it now seems to 
be surpassed, surpassed by life itself, bearing, affirming life that 
passes on and ramifies the impulses. I could, last evening, think of 
no story that would have touched me more closely and carried 
me along more briskly than this history of the House of "Vol- 
kart", which really, factually as you have handled it, contains 
only dates, simple statements of what has been achieved, all along 
from its origin to its expansion. 

What a document is given one in this book; what an example 
of harmonious common effort, what an ideal association of com- 
bining forces! And how reality has from the beginning and again 
and again kept saying "yes" to this genuine venture that did not 
take place for the sake of profit but proceeded from the grandly 
recognized need of being united, of barter, the weighing of 
foreign against familiar things. And when profit did come and 
reward the precise and timely cleverness of those enterprises and 
measures, with what self-command the leaders of such expanded 
undertakings knew how to convert it into energy again, so that 
it could not for a moment "grow rank" but continually served 
the healthiest and happiest growth. 

When I entered your Winterthur offices for the first time, I 
felt plainly enough, but less cxpressibly, what now strikes me anew 
from this book: the idea of commerce in its human directness and 
purity. This language the continents of the world speak among 
themselves, whose vehicles are things used and evaluated; materi- 
als, and that which may in painstaking ways be gained and derived 
from them. And how this idea, with all its infinite realizations and 
unavoidable complications through the centuries, has forfeited 
nothing of its spontaneity and youthfulness: how the charm of 
the foreign and remote is still active in it, the hearty curiosity of 
joy in barter and the inexhaustible amazement at finding a prod- 
uct brought from afar so different, so essentially precious, so pure 
in its structure, so one with its own fragrance. And this joy too, 


of giving some native thing for it, something plainer and less 
conspicuous in accord with the climate, but besides that too all 
the clever and subtle inventions and constructions of the European 
mind, which in turn may excite amazement and satisfy or sur- 
pass naive curiosity among people of different birth . . . All this 
appreciated and striven for according to its real usefulnesses, and 
everywhere attended by all that which, here and yonder, over and 
above the merely useful, fills and alters whatever pertains to the 
human sphere; and only at the end: profit, and this never bursting 
forth in arrogance, but again and again turned inward and led 
back into the ramifications of the work: creating wealth in the 
work itself , and ultimately in its final effects, irrepressible, ad- 
mitted by the managers of so many objects and destinies linked 
with the common effort as something personal and to be owned 
. . . And here, in the realm of the most personal, once again held 
a responsibility, placed at the service of recognized great values 
and used as only those can use it who in their profession have 
trained themselves to that which is genuine and true, that which 
is lasting. 

You see, my dear Herr Georg Reinhart, the little factual book 
invites to excursions and interpretations; I could fill up more than 
these two pages with them. But may I in closing voice a request? 
I am probably right in assuming that your publication is reserved 
for friends and is not to be purchased in bookstores. Now I would 
so like to have presented a copy of this commemorative book to 
my publisher and friend, Professor Kippenberg. This able and 
active owner and director of the Insel-Verlag, renowned besides 
(as you know) for his important Goethe collection the biggest 
private collection of manuscripts and pictures belonging to 
Goethe and those around him , would (I am sure), as the great 
and fortunate merchant of spiritual values that he is, take the 
liveliest pleasure in possessing your publication; he, in his way, 
would have the finest instinct for admiring the history of this 
traditionary rise, and to him (as to me) a document of that kind 
would be nothing short of consoling in an age that overestimates 
its "being-new" as against the continuable. How the old Goethe, 


who also through conversance with the structural elements of the 
world and out of the need for universal relations developed his 
own great conception of the genuine and his reverence for the 
traditional . . . , how the old Goethe would have held your 
memorial in honor one hears him commenting on it to Ecker- 


To Leonid Pasternak Val-Mont par Glion sur Territet 

(Vaud) Switzerland 
March 14, 1926 

No, I cannot write you in Russian, but I did read your letter 
. . . and even if I could no longer read Russian (I still can quite 
well, but unfortunately seldom get to it . . .) but, even if I no 
longer could, the joy and the great surprise of reading you, dear 
valued friend, would, for a moment, have given me back all my 
knowledge: this good letter I would have understood in all cir- 
cumstances and in all languages. And now I want to assure you at 
once how your language and all that concerns the old Russia (the 
unforgettable secret Skaska), and how everything of which you 
remind me in your note has remained close, dear and sacred to me, 
forever embedded in the substructure of my life! Yes, we have 
had to let much change pass over us, your country above all: but, 
even if ive are no more to experience it in its resurrection, the deep, 
the real, the ever surviving Russia has only fallen back into its 
secret root-layer, as once formerly under the Tartarshchina; who 
may doubt that it is there and, in its darkness, invisible to its own 
children, slowly, with its sacred slowness, is gathering itself to- 
gether for a perhaps still distant future? Your own exile, the 
exile of so many most loyal to it, is nourishing this in a sense sub- 
terranean preparation: for as the real Russia has hidden itself 
away under the earth, in the earth, so all of you have only gone 
away in order to remain true to its momentary hiddenness; how 
strongly, with how much emotion, dear Leonid Ossipovitch Pas- 
ternak, I felt that last year in Paris: there I saw again old Russian 

friends and found new ones, and the young fame of your son Boris 
touched me from more than one side. Also, chronologically, the 
last thing I tried to read there were poems of his, very beautiful 
ones (in a little anthology of Ilya Ehrenburg's, which I then un- 
fortunately gave to the Russian dancer Mila Sirul; unfortunately: 
because at times since I would have liked to reread them). Now 
it moves me to know that not only he, Boris, the already recog- 
nized poet of a new generation, has not ceased to know about me 
and to be familiar with my work, but that with you and yours too 
my existence has remained in your hearts and sympathies, that 
you, dear friend, have let your memory and affection for me 
prosper and grow in your family, infinitely increasing in this way 
something good that has remained dear to me. 

To know you living and working in comparatively normal cir- 
cumstances, surrounded by a part of your family, is a good happy 
knowledge to me! And prejudiced though I am against having 
my portrait made, if proximity in space permits and we see each 
other again, I shall be proud to occupy a modest place in the ranks 
of your models. But it is much more likely that you will see Clara 
Rilke, who still lives in Germany, near Bremen, or with our 
daughter, who is married and living on an estate in Saxony and 
already something over two years ago made me a grandfather by 
the arrival of a granddaughter! . . . 

To Georg Reinhart Still Val-Mont par Glion sur Territet (Vaud) 

March 19, 1926 

You gave me great pleasure in sending me back the address 
that so clearly resumes the spirit of your anniversary volume and 
that of your life work as well: in your words (not one is super- 
fluous) there comes most vividly and directly to life what was set 
forth, in such a lucid accounting, in that historical survey; there, 
the past appeared, preserved and temporarily outlined by the 
boundaries of the present: these, these boundaries, your animated 
words everywhere set vibrating. Yes, with your happily im- 


provised space-curve you did something further; you bent into 
a globe the planisphere of the Volkart Brothers' world-map and 
so brought the stereometric problem of the firm's activity within 
the grasp of all your co-workers present at the celebration, that 
none could become aware of the manifold task uniting you and 
themselves without an enrichment of his own inner sense of space: 
that is, without a spontaneous increase of freedom and felicity. I 
who have always stood in the midst of my work, as a single and 
solely responsible individual entrusted with both plan and execu- 
tion, nevertheless possess intuition enough to be able to imagine 
what it may mean to each one, from the humblest to the most 
indispensable, working into the whole, to belong to such an im- 
mense like-minded association; but I feel it a special privilege too 
that I was permitted to gain this convincing experience through 
such a great and happy example. 

Even here Switzerland, as through so much, has become in a 
peculiar way communicating to me and well suited to introduce 
me, not only to new people whom I have quickly learned to value 
and love, but to conditions also which, in their significance and 
universality, work together on my view of the world, its measure 
and its expanse. And I am proud, I may say, not only to be per- 
sonally connected in warmth and gratitude with you and your 
brother Werner, but also to reach learning, marveling and ad- 
miring to the wide domain of your work. 

Surely to you too, who are accustomed to take the attentive 
interest of an all-round adept in the chemistry of any given life- 
moment, in its composition, the contrasts crowding in it, ... 
surely it has at times occurred to you too of what curiously com- 
pounded, conflicting or mutually complementary constituents the 
incoming mail of a single day is made up. It would perhaps turn 
out a not so confused book, if one decided to treat as a unit such 
a complex of letters, driven together from the most varied origins: 
The recipient alone, his occupations and interests, should suffice 
to embrace under a single relation the most heterogeneous ele- 
ments consorting on his table, and many a question would find 

____ _ 3^9 

itself solved or further developed in an entirely unsuspecting 
neighbor-letter concerned with something else. 

To Hans Ulbricht temporarily: Val-Mont par Glion sur Territet 

(Vaud) Switzerland 
March 24, 1926 

Since your letter came I have often pondered what that would 
be friendly I could give you to take along on your new way: 
what, above all, that would be useful? Your letter, as well as one 
and another (particularly the last) of your lyric attempts, does 
contain passages of personal and individual expression that make 
you come through more recognizably; but there exists between 
the two utterances (the one of artistic and the one aiming at com- 
munication) too great a similarity. 

So it only (once again) became clear to me how depressing and 
hopeless an occupation the lyric poem represents at a certain 
age, just because it works with the medium of language and does 
not offer sufficient craftsmanship to develop in it something in- 
dependent (I mean this not in the artistic sense but in the purely 
vital). What life exhales continually reacts upon life again , an 
existence that by this means tries to unburden, burdens itself 
rather with the intensified expression of all that is unbearable to it, 
remains crowded about by its own distresses that have passed 
through an apparent removal and release, is more at their mercy 
than if it had never been caught up and condensed in a lyric 
consciousness. Even where an early talent comes to the assistance 
of this effort or in a sense anticipates it (Heym or Trakl), the 
result has had too little substance to overcome to delight by 
transubstantiation; a Trakl (one should consider) who could have 
exercised his genius in painting or in music instead of in poetry 
would not have perished under the excessive weight of his work, 
under the darkening with which it overhung him. 

Since life, as you tell me, will shortly require of you changes of 
all kinds: may they be it remains for me to wish such as will 


thrust into your hands something immediately tangible, an occu- 
pation in the most concrete sense. At the risk of your being for a 
while not able to try yourself out in poems. But should you find 
a pen in your hand nevertheless, forbid it to write down "emotion- 
alisms", oblige it to note facts of your own and preferably of 
more remote life, and, in any case, provide for yourself, besides 
the pen that is destined to convey to friends a sign of your welfare 
and activity, a second pen that you handle like a tool: and do not 
let your self be moved by what proceeds from this second pen, be 
hard toward the least of your productions. What you have put 
out as a craftsman, to which this other pen gives contour, should 
react no further on your own life, should be a shaping, a trans- 
position, a transformation, to which your "ego" was only the first 
and last impetus, but which from there on remains standing across 
from you, originating from your impulse but at once removed 
so far from you to the level of artistic estrangement, of thing- 
like solitude, that you feel your part in the completion of this 
mysteriously objective thing to be but that of a person calmly 
carrying out some order. 

In any case this is important for you: that you get away beyond 
this neighborhood of your lyric poems, that you do not go about 
letters as you would poems and do not merely take life as an oc- 
casion for moods and unreliabilities of feeling. It is so much more. 
And it would be too bad if, overtaken by words, you would in 
the end have to have borne only the perplexities of youth without 
knowing what it was to be overwhelmed by the being-young, 
which is sheer existence. 

To Dieter Basserwmnn for the present, Val-Mont par Glion, 

Territet (Vaud) Switzerland 
Easter Monday [April 5] 1926 

The announced numbers of your professional journal have 
unfortunately not arrived, only (by the same roundabout way 
they must have taken) your letter: it interested me exceedingly, 

and I am glad of the assurance you expressed in it. I have always 
thought that some poem, by the very extremeness of its nature, 
could suddenly extend quite directly to the domain of the pre- 
cision instrument, settling out of its world space, as it were, like 
pure dew, on the surface of a problem. 

I cannot say whether, outside the kind of framework within 
which the various categories of the exact come to an understand- 
ing among themselves, I would be capable of intentionally ex- 
pressing myself on the theme you propose. Perhaps after all I lack 
conversance with the mechanical achievements up to now; for 
only on a certain familiarity with the accomplishments of the 
talking-machine might conjectures about its task and its future 
be set up. Younger people may be better fitted for this purpose. 
Nevertheless I do not yet want to say no. If you wish to send me 
once more (to the address given above) the copies that didn't 
arrive, it is not impossible that I might be able to form an im- 

My yes, on the other hand, applies even today to your courteous 
intentions of occupying the readers of your periodical when oc- 
casion offers with my "Primal Sound" essay (the title is not 
mine). Why should I not confess my weakness for those notes in 
which, after years, I had laid down what in a certain unforgettable 
intuition had appeared to me as not even "so fantastic". Since the 
nature of the phonograph derives from the graphic projection of 
tones, why should it not be feasible to transform into sound mani- 
festations lines and drawings of elemental origin that occur in 

The so special course of the coronal suture, for example, trans- 
posed into the depth dimension, should it not really emit a kind of 
"music"? And would it not be something unheard-of (and im- 
mediately thereafter accepted) to set to sound the countless sig- 
natures of Creation which in the skeleton, in minerals ... at a 
thousand places persist in their remarkable versions and variations? 
The grain in wood, the gait of an insect: our eye is practiced in 
following and ascertaining them. What a gift to our hearing were 
we to succeed in transmuting this zigzag (in which chance after 

392 _ 

all represents merely a stock company founded by laws) into 
auditory events! 

Already once, years ago, I learned that someone thought of 
making the suggestions I had provisionally set down in the "Primal 
Sound" essay the point of departure for technical experiments; 
whether this took place, and with what result, I have never 
learned. The idea however still seems to me so remarkable that I 
am grateful to anyone who may linger over it a while: even error 
turns out so often to be the step of a little platform on which a 
footing can then be found. . . . 

To Dieter Bassermann Val-Mont par Glion, Territet (Vaud) 

April 19, 1926 

Unfortunately I was able after many hindrances only yesterday, 
Sunday, to look through the proposed texts: I would have no 
objection to their being printed in this form. At most this: it dis- 
turbs my ear for language a little to feel a letter passage, which is 
by nature of a different density, joined as a direct supplement to 
the older essay. I should prefer to have you indicate by a few dots 
the not quite definitive character of the prose pages taken from 
the Inselschiff, in order to append the passage from my letter to 
you with more visible differentiation, after a more emphatic break, 
to the preceding text. In this typographical setting it would round 
out the former even better, in that the interval would become ap- 
parent which separates a note going back years ago now from my 
attitude of this very day, which is still similarly oriented; thus the 
curious persistence with which this idea, in a sense, keeps overtak- 
ing me, becomes more striking. 

Meanwhile not only have the numbers of your periodical I 
asked to have sent again reached me, but, via my permanent ad- 
dress, the copies previously sent have also found their way to me. 
I have looked through them attentively. What surprises me is to 
find the talking-machine praised almost exclusively as a repro- 


ducer of musical material, as if it had so far concerned itself little 
with the spoken word. And yet, through its exact repetition, it 
could render strict control services to those whose business it is 
to give a speech or recite a poem, just as it does, in his sphere, to 
the practical musician. The talking-machine could further con- 
tribute, in the service of the poetic word, to a new orderly sense 
of responsibility toward the reading aloud of a poem (by which 
alone its whole existence appears) . How many readers still miss 
the real relationship to the poem because in running over it silently 
they only graze its individual qualities, instead of bringing them 
awake. I picture to myself (after some resistance) a reader who, 
reading along with a poetry book in his hand, listens to a talking- 
machine in order to be better informed of the existence of the 
poem in question; that would surely be no mere "artistic pleasure", 
but very penetrating instruction, somewhat as certain tabulations 
in the school-room present and charge the eye with something 
in its relative proportions that is otherwise invisible. The prerequi- 
site for such an exercise would in any case be that the talking- 
machine had received the sound picture of the verse sequence 
from the poet's own lips and not indirectly by way, say, of the 
actor. On the contrary, this means of education would not be 
unsuited to making the actor innocuous as an interpreter of poems 
(he almost always errs and goes astray) . Preserved in the disks, the 
poem would then persist, to be called up at any time in the form 
intended by the poet: an almost inconceivable advantage! But 
of course for us to whom certain revelations seem to get their 
most indescribable quality of greatness, melancholy and humanity 
from their fabulous uniqueness, such a mechanical survival of the 
most mysterious and rich form of expression would be almost un- 
bearable. It is still (besides being a need) also a strength and a 
pride of our soul to consort with the unique and irretrievably 


To Beppy Veder Hotel Hof-Ragaz, August 9, 1926 

Not our hours alone . . . , their further bringing me this post- 
script in the evening has been in a special way good and comfort- 
ing to me. And as for the joy, nothing could easily happen that 
might diminish it. Even if my entire occupation, if all my pref- 
erences, if every object of my inner zeal turned out to be foreign 
to you, there would still remain what, before any words, with the 
first handclasp you laid in my hand: an infinitely joyous trust in 
your very life itself, this applying of yourself, spending out of 
the stores of a spirit which even through distress, pain and dis- 
appointment will never be impoverished, because deep, happy 
springs feed it and keep it in freshness and fullness, whatever may 
happen to you. But now may favorable things befall, so that the 
art to which you now want to belong may take from within you 
that rise for which space and sky about you are prepared. R.M.R. 

P.S. Today Herr Wunderly-Volkart arrives, then tomorrow 
my friends leave . . . , and then I hope to see you not "once", 
but, up to that too-near Thursday, just as much as you ever will 
allow me. 


To Beppy Veder Ragaz, August 23, 1926 

Now each of the so different people to whom you have been 
an ever-sure joy here has had had time to practice his deprivation: 
mine is of so special a kind that I have as yet been unable to write 
you. Perhaps because I was so adjusted to your being-here that it 
confuses me to learn another way of association, a less direct 
one, that accommodates itself to the measure of distance. Perhaps, 
too, because I still somehow remain caught in our farewell. Can 
you understand that? 

I think this letter has confirmed something in advance, for only 
after this summer have the great blows of fate come upon our 

____ _ 395 

sunny family and into my existence. Nevertheless I am convinced 
that they have made us richer, if one has the strength to take 
them. R.M.R. 


To Rudotf Kassner Wednesday, December 15, 1926 

My dear Kassner, so this it was of which my nature has been 
urgently forewarning me for three years: I am ill in a miserable 
and infinitely painful way, a little-known cell alteration in the 
blood is becoming the point of departure for the most horrible 
occurrences scattered through my entire body. And I, who never 
wanted to look it squarely in the face, am learning to adjust 
myself to the incommensurable anonymous pain. Am learning it 
with difficulty, amid a hundred resistances, and so sadly amazed. 
I wanted you to know of this condition of mine which will not 
be of the most passing. Inform the dear Princess of it, as much as 
you consider well. I learn through Princess Gargarine that Prin- 
cess Taxis will settle down in her beautiful apartment in the 
Palazzo Borghese for the winter. And you, dear Kassner? How 
was Paris for you? I was happy to find the Elements de la grandeur 
humaine in the issue of Commerce! 

All love, Kassner! 

I think much, much of you. 


To Jules Supervielle 

(in French) Clinique de Val-Mont sur Territet 

par Glion (Vaud) 
December 21, 1926 

My dear, dear Supervielle, 

Gravely ill, painfully, miserably, humbly ill, I recover myself 
for an instant in the sweet consciousness of having been able to be 
reached, even here, on this indeterminable and so little human 


plane, by your message and by all the influences it brings me. 
I think of you, poet, friend, and in so doing I think still of the 
world, poor broken fragments of a vase that remembers being of 
the earth. (But this abuse of our senses and of their "dictionary" 
by the pain that goes leafing through it! ) R. 

3\(otes and 

of Correspondents 


Rilke was born in Prague, December 4, 1875, and died 
at Valmont, near Glion, Switzerland, December 29, 1926. 












Ausgeivahlte Werke (1938), the two-volume edition of 
selected works. 

Duino Elegies, translated by J. B. Leishman and Stephen 

Spender (W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., New York, 


The Tale of the Love and Death of Cornet Christopher 

Rilke, translated by M. D. Herter Norton (W. W. Norton 

& Company, Inc., New York, 1932). 

Gesarti?nelte Werke (1927), the six- volume standard edition 
of collected works. 

The Journal of My Other Self (Die Aufzeichnungen des 
Make Laurids Brigge), translation by John Linton (W. W. 
Norton & Company, Inc., New York, 1930). 

Letters of Rainer Maria Rilke, 1892-1910, translated by Jane 
Bannard Greene and M. D. Herter Norton ( W. W. Norton 
& Company, Inc., New York, 1945). 

Die Aufzeichnungen des Malte Laurids Brigge, known in 
English as The Journal of My Other Self (see J.O.S. above). 

J. R. von Salis, Rainer Maria Rilke's Schweitzer Jahre 
(Huber & Co., Frauenfeld und Leipzig, 1936). 

Spate Gedichte. 

Sonnets to Orpheus, translated by M. D. Herter Norton 
(W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., New York, 1942). 

Stories of God (Geschichten vom lie ben Gott), translated 
by M. D. Herter Norton and Nora Purtscher-Wydenbruck 
(W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., New York, 1932). 

M. D. Herter Norton, Translations from the Poetry of 
Rainer Maria Rilke ( W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., New 
York, 1938). 

Letters to a Young Poet, translated by M. D. Herter Norton 
(W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., New York, 1934). 


[The number in brackets is that of the letter, the page 
number that of the page on which the reference occurs.] 

[i] p. 15 Venice: Rilke was staying at the Hotel Regina. 
a mon insu: unconsciously. 

Carlo Zeno: (1334-1418), a great figure in the history of the 
Venetian state, commander of both land and sea forces, diplo- 
mat, orator, devotee of the sciences and music. (See the 
article on him by Bettina Seipp in Inselschiff, Christmas 1935, 
17 Jahrgang.) Rilke's project of making his life the subject 
of a book was never carried out. (See also [26].) 

Duino: Rilke had just been visiting at the old family castle of 
Princess Marie von Thurn und Taxis-Hohenlohe (see next 
letter and note), situated near Nabresina on the Austrian 
Littoral, above Trieste and below Monfalcone and Sagrado. 

Kassner: Rudolph Kassner (1873- ), critic, essayist, philos- 
opher, physiognomist, author of many books. Rilke was both 
attracted and alarmed by his severe and penetrating mind, 
but his dedication to him of the Eighth Duino Elegy testifies 
both to deep affection for the man and to respect for his 
thought. Kassner's own observations on Rilke in his Buch der 
Erinnerung (Insel, 1934) are friendly but far from uncritical. 

[2] p. 16 Princess Marie von Thurn und Taxis-Hohenlohe: A truly 
cultured grande dame, and from now on one of Rilke's great- 
est and most generous friends, whose circle included some 
of the ablest and most gifted personalities of the time. Rilke 
had met her the previous December in Paris, and a warm 
sympathy had sprung up between them which lasted to the 
end of his life. Her Erinnerungen an Rainer Maria Rilke 
(Corona, 1933) is an invaluable account of their friendship. 

His restlessness on the increase, Rilke had gone from Venice 
to Paris resolved to bury himself in work again. But in July 
he set out once more, first for Oberneuland to visit Clara and 
Ruth, thence to the Princess' Bohemian home, Lautschin, and 
finally, via Prague, to this near-by castle of Janowicz. Rilke's 
first visit here to the Nadhernys is described in [187] of 
Letters: 1892-1910. 

Prince Pasha: son of the Princess. 

p. 17 Make Laurids: The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, 


p. 17 Kierkegaard: Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), the Danish re- 
ligious thinker and philosopher. 

the three children: Baroness Sidie Nadherny and her two 
young brothers. 

[3] p. 1 8 Countess Lili Kanitz-Menar: a member of the von Schwerin 
circle which had played so prominent a part in Rilke's earlier 
life (see Letters: 

Raskolnikov: the protagonist of Dostoievsky's Crime and 

[4] p. 18 rue de Varenne: see note to [193] in Letters: 1892-1910. 

Algiers: A group of friends, among them a huntswoman, Frau 
Oltersdorf, were to be Rilke's traveling companions. 

p. 19 the death of Tolstoy: Tolstoy had died on November 7 at 
the railway station of Astapovo. 

[6] p. 20 you two: Clara and Ruth. 

souk: Arab word meaning market. 

gebba: a flowing outer garment. 

gandourah: a kind of sleeveless shirt worn in the Near East. 

[7] p. 21 Kairuan: was founded sometime before 670 A. D. by Sidi 
Okba ibn Kafi as a rallying place for Mohammedans in Africa. 

the mosque: Called after its founder, the Mosque of Sidi 
Okba has special significance to the Mohammedan world in 
that, according to tradition, it was set by divine inspiration 
absolutely true to Mecca. 

[8] p. 22 temple world of Karnak: cf . Sonnets to Orpheus II, 22 (G.W. 
Ill, 367; A.W. I, 300); S.O., 112-113. 

O die eherne Glocke, die ihre O the brazen bell that daily 


taglich wider den stumpfen lifts its bludgeon against the 

Alltag hebt. dull quotidian. 

Oder die eine> in Karnak, die Or the one y in Karnak, the col- 

Saule, die Saule, umn, the column 

die fast ewige Tempel iiber- that outlives almost eternal 

lebt. temples. 

Also the poem "In Karnak Wars" published in the Insel- 
Almanach for 1923 as "from the poems of Count C.W." 

[9] p. 23 Prince Alexander von Thurn und Taxis: the husband of 
Princess Marie. 

p. 23 Heluan: Rilke was now with Baron Jacob and Baroness May 

[10] p. 24 Rilke left Africa in March and returned to Paris after a 
week in Venice with the Princess. 

[n] p. 24 Frau Lili Schalk: The brilliant wife of the Viennese con- 
ductor Franz Schalk and daughter of the Bavarian poet 

p. 25 Petrarch on Mont Ventoux: In a letter of April 26, 1335, 
Petrarch wrote: 

"I opened the compact little volume [St. Augustine's Confessions], 
small indeed in size, but of infinite charm, with the intention of 
reading whatever came to hand, for I could happen upon nothing 
that would be otherwise than edifying and devout. Now it chanced 
that the tenth book presented itself. My brother, waiting to hear 
something of St. Augustine's from my lips, stood attentively by. I 
call him, and God too, to witness that where I first fixed my eyes 
it was written: 'And men go about to wonder at the heights of the 
mountains, and the mighty waves of the sea, and the wide sweep of 
rivers, and the circuit of the ocean, and the revolution of the stars, 
but themselves they consider not.' " 

(Cf. Petrarch, The First Modern Man of Letters: A Selection 
from His Correspondence) J. H. Robinson and H. W. Rolfe, 
G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1909, p. 317.) 

[12] p. 26 Sermon on Mary Magdalene: "L' Amour de Madeleine," a 
17th-century French sermon, "Drawn by the Abbe Joseph 
Bossuet from MS Ql 14 in the Royal Library at St. Peters- 
burg," which Rilke had just translated (G.W. VI, 71-102). 

Guerin Centaur: "Le Centaur," the fragmentary prose poem 
of Maurice de Guerin (1810-1839). For Rilke's translation 
see G.W. VI, 51-69; AW. II, 323-336. 

p. 27 Eugenie de Guerin: (1805-1848), sister of Maurice. The 
Lettres d'Eugenie de Guerin, edited by G. S. Trebutien, were 
published in Paris in 1863. Rilke's library includes only her 
Journal et Fragments, 25ieme ed., Paris, 1869, published by 
the same editor. 

[13] p. 28 Helene von Nostitz: Frau von Nostitz-Wallwitz (born von 
Hindenburg), an author, wife of the chief magistrate of 
Auerbach in the Saxonian Vogtland, mentions Rilke (pp. 
150-151) in her Aus dem alien Europa (1925). 

Lautschin: See [2] and notes. 

We then drove: The Princess enthusiastically describes this 


trip with Rilke in her car on August zoth (Erinnerungen 9 
p. 23). 

p. 28 Bettina: Bettina (Brentano) von Arnim (1785-1859). See 
Letters: 1892-1910, [194] and note. 

Duchess Anna Amalia: mother of Goethe's friend and pa- 
tron, Duke Karl August of Sachse-Weimar and regent dur- 
ing his minority, resided at the old ducal Wittumspalais, 
1774-1807. Outstanding at the time in her respect for the Ger- 
man language, she engaged Christoph Martin Wieland as 
tutor for her two sons. 

[14] p. 29 Frau Elsa Bruckmann: born Princess Cantacuzne, wife of 
Hugo Bruckmann, the Munich art and book publisher. 

Duino: It was during Rilke's stay here from October 1911 
to May 1912, with exception of two brief excursions to Ven- 
ice, that the first two Duino Elegies and fragments of others 
were written. The complete series (G.W. Ill, 259-308; A*W. 
1, 227-260; D.E.) was not finished until 1922. 

remis a neuf : freshened up. 

Karst: (Carso) the terrain forming the hinterland of Trieste, 
which, with its predominance of limestone, is characterized 
by subterranean channels and caves. 

[15] p. 30 your friend: Artur Hospelt. 

[16] p. 32 Lou Andreas-Salome: Rilke's oldest close friend. See numer- 
ous letters to her and note to [8] in Letters: 1892-1910. 

two Christmases: the Western and the Russian Christmas did 
not fall on the same day owing to differences in the calen- 

Gebsattel: Rilke was considering the possibility of undergo- 
ing an analysis with Emil Baron von Gebsattel, a psychia- 

Ellen Key: Swedish reformer, feminist and writer (1849- 
1926); see note to [44] in Letters: 1892-1910. She and Rilke 
had formerly been warm friends. 

p. 33 Rodin: reference to Rodin's affair with the Duchesse de 
Choiseul (see Letters: 1892-1910, [206] and note). 

p. 34 My best Paris time: the period between May 1908 and Janu- 
ary 1910, when New Poems II, the Requiems and the Note- 
books were being written. 

p. 34 Ilya of Murom: chief hero of the Russian Bylinie or Hero 
Songs. Cf . the poem cycle "The Czars" in Book of Pictures 
II, G.W. II, 97-106, A.W. I, 121-129. 

Zwei fremde Pilger riefen Two stranger pilgrims called 

einen Namen a name, 

und aufgewacht aus seinem and wakened out of his long 

langen Lahmen laming 

war Ilija, der Riese von was Ilya, the Giant of Murom. 


p. 35 Baudelaire poem: "Confession" from Les Fleurs du Mai. 

que c'est un dur metier etc.: what a hard calling it is to be 
a beautiful woman. 

P- 3<5 elder Prince Taxis: the father-in-law of Princess Marie. 

p. 37 evenings on Capri: Rilke had twice visited Capri, in the 
winter of 1906-07 and in the spring of 1908. 

two elderly women and a young girl: his Capri hostess, Frau 
Alice Faehndrich, Julie, Baroness von Nordeck zur Rabenau 
and the former's niece, Countess Solms-Laubach. 

p. 38 Neiv Poems: Part I was written and published in 1907, Part 
II in 1908. 

rue Cassette: After his break with Rodin in May 1906 Rilke 
had taken a room in a little hotel at number 29. 

p. 39 ancient tombstone: Cf. passage from the Second Elegy 
(G.W. Ill, 267-268; A.W. I, 237; D.E., 33): 

Erstaunte euch nicht auf attischen Stelen die Vorsicht 
menschlicher Geste? war nicht Liebe und Abschied so leicht auf 
die Schultern gelegt, als war es aus anderm Stoffe gemacht als 
bei uns? 

On Attic steles, did not the circumspection 
of human gesture amaze you? Were not love and farewell 
so lightly laid upon shoulders, they seemed to be made 
of other stuff than with us? 

and the lines from the poem in The Life of Mary (G.W. II, 
314; A.W. I, 223; T.P., 222-223. 

Sie hatten nicht notig, They had no need 

sich stark zu beriihren. firmly to touch each other. 

Er legte ihr eine Sekunde He laid for a second 

kaum seine nachstens scarcely his soon to be 

ewige Hand an die frauliche eternal hand to her womanly 
Schulter. shoulder. 


[ 1 8] p. 40 Countess Manon zu Solms-Laubach: see note to [ 1 7] . 

p. 41 a woman being able to pursue art: see [202] in Letters: 

[19] p. 41 Emil Baron von Gebsattel: see note to [16], 

p. 42 Marthe: a young factory girl, a kind of protegee of his, who 
remains a mysterious figure in Rilke's life. In her Erin- 
nerungen (p. 27), Princess Thurn und Taxis-Hohenlohe says 
she was closer to him than any other woman and that all 
his letters about her have a tone she finds nowhere else. Cf. 

Madame W.: Frau Wenderl, the woman under whose care 
Rilke had placed Marthe. 

p. 43 through the hardest stone: cf. Book of Hours, G.W. II, 269, 
A.W. I, 85. 

Vielleicht, dass ich durch schwere Berge gehe 
in harten Adern, wie ein Erz allein; 
und bin so tief, dass ich kein Ende sehe 
und keine Feme: alles wurde Na'he 
und alle Na'he wurde Stein. 

Perhaps I am going through heavy mountains 

in hard veins, like an ore alone; 

and am so deep I see no ending 

and no distance: all has become nearness 

and all nearness, stone. 

[21] p. 46 Annette Kolb: (1875- ) a writer, interested chiefly in 
Catholicism and the broadening of cultural relations between 
European countries. 

mais moi . . . : but I, in reality I hardly think at all, I swallow 
my thoughts whole without noting the taste in detail, I have 
them in my blood before drawing from them the immediate 
profit that imposes itself. 

those who have died young: Cf. ist Elegy (G.W. Ill, 262, 
11. 4-6, and 263, 11. 7-9; A.W. I, 233, 11. 4-6 and 29-30; D.E., 

p. 46 the woman who loves: this theme recurs again and again 
in Rilke's poetry. Cf. ist Elegy (G.W. Ill, 261, 11. 8-18; A.W. 
I, 232, 11. 18-28; D.E., 22-23.) 

p. 47 Gaspara Stampa: (1523-1554), a Milanese lady, whose un- 
happy love for Collatino, Count of Collalto, she made the 
subject of some two hundred sonnets. See preceding note. 

p. 47 Lyonnaise Labe: Louise Labi (1526-1566), a lady of Lyons, 
famous for her poetry, her beauty and her eccentric behav- 
ior (at sixteen, disguised as a captain, she for a time followed 
the troops of Francis 1). Rilke's translations of her poetry are 
to be found in G.W. VI, 187-210 (A.W. II, 348-350, includes 
but four). 

Marianna Alcoforado: the Portuguese nun whose letters to 
her unfaithful lover Rilke had translated (G.W. VI, 103-148). 
See [117] and note in Letters: 1892-1910. 

Chamilly: the Marquis de Chamilly, Marianna's lover. 

[22] p. 49 To her cousin, Franz Schoenberner, Lou describes her at- 
tempt very cautiously to analyze Rilke while they were 
traveling in Russia, and her sudden awareness that since his 
genius was rooted in what she recognized as a neurotic com- 
plex, the effort to cure his neurosis might mean destroying 
the poet in him (Confessions of a European Intellectual, Mac- 
millan, 1946, p. 268). 

p. 50 You know analysis so intimately: Lou was a close friend 
of Sigmund Freud, and, with his permission, actually prac- 
ticed analysis herself. 

new little "Life of Mary": G.W. II, 295-3 18; AW. I, 2 1 1-223; 
S.P., 194-231. 

[23] p. 51 M.L.B.: Make Laurids Brigge. 
[24] p. 52 Dai Bog Zhizn!: God give life! 

Angela da Foligno: (1248-1309), foundress of the Third Or- 
der of St. Francis and beatified by the Catholic Church, a 
mystic whose Instructions Rilke had been reading. 

telyega: Russian peasant cart, 
p. 53 Kassner's infirmity: Kassner was a hunchback. 

Indian Idealism: Der indische Idealismus (Bruckmann, Mu- 
nich, 1903), not to be confused with Der indische Gedanke 
(Leipzig, 1913), the book of essays published by Insel-Verlag. 

Bruckmann: Hugo Bruckmann. See note to [14]. 

fi de la vie . . . : to the devil witl 
of it any more. 

proshchai: Russian for "good-by." 

p. 54 fi de la vie . . . : to the devil with life, don't speak to me 
of it any more. 


[ 2 5] ? 54 difficult for me where dogs are concerned: Cf. Sonnets to 
Orpheus 1, 16 (G.W. Ill, 328, AW. I, 278) and Rilke's note, 
also S.O., 46-47 and translator's note on Rilke's attitude 
toward dogs. 

p. 55 Brahms version: a portion of the Harz Journey is used as 
text for the Alto Rhapsody, Op. 53. 

acquiring admiration for Goethe: for an earlier stage of 
Rilke's feeling for Goethe, see [70] in Letters: 1892-1910. 

returns the compliment of Herr Dr. Kannegiesser: the latter 
had sent Goethe his commentary on the Harz Journey. By 
way of acknowledgement, Goethe not only complimented 
Kannegiesser on the accuracy of his interpretation, but him- 
self wrote a four- or five-page analysis of the poem, a docu- 
ment which is included in the notes to most editions of 
Goethe's poems. 

[26] p. 57 grandmother: Frau Caroline Enz (born Kinzelberger). In 
Rene Rilke (Leipzig, 1932) Carl Sieber states that until her 
death in 1927 at the age of ninety-eight, this robust old lady 
continued to celebrate Christmas "with punch and sweet- 

p. 58 letters to "Gustgen" Stolberg: Of Goethe's very intimate 
letters to Countess Auguste Stolberg, whom he had never 
met, Rilke wrote (August 3, 1912) to the Princess: ". . . what 
magnificence! How born into the earthly this man really 
was, how he understood, with what spiritual ingenuity, what 
can be made of it. And then one was young and took it amiss, 
dear heaven, yes, and time didn't wait to be told twice and 
went " 

Venetian history: see [i] and note. 

sandals: always kept for Rilke at Lou's house. 

[28] p. 60 Alfred Walter von Heymel: (1878-1914), poet (Gesammelte 
Gedichte, Leipzig, 1914), founder of the Insel-Verlag and 
onetime editor of the Insel Almanac, known for a remarkably 
accurate and able translation of Marlowe's Edward 11. 

p. 61 SchlegePs translation: the Shakespeare translation by August 
Wilhelm von Schlegel (1767-1845), famous for its extraor- 
dinary excellence. 

Froissart: A copy of Les Chroniques de Sire Jean Froissart 
(Buchon, 1842, Paris, 3 vols.) was found in Rilke's library. 

[29] p. 61 Tasso: Goethe's play on the life of Torquato Tasso (1544- 
1595), author of Gerusalemme Liber ata. 


p. 6 1 Marianna: Marianna Alcoforado. See note to [21]. 
p. 62 Raskolnikov: See note to [3], 

Lepanto: the great naval battle (1571) in which Spain and 
Italy destroyed the Turkish sea power. 

[30] p. 62 From May to September Rilke was in Venice, living for 
the greater part of the time in the Princess' palace. 

p. 63 Casino dei Spiriti: presumably the Casa degli Spiriti. Horatio 
Brown, a friend of Princess Marie, whom Rilke had met at 
Duino, suggests, in his Life on the Lagoons (London, 1900), 
that its name and its reputation for being haunted sprang from 
the fact that bodies bound for burial on the island of San 
Michele were deposited there at night for purposes of au- 
topsy by medical students. 

Duse: Eleonora Duse, the actress. Rilke had wanted for years 
to meet her. 

p. 64 experience with Rodin: see [16] and note. 

Moissi: Alexander Moissi, the actor, Italian by birth, who 
made his reputation in the German theater under Reinhardt. 

Reinhardt: Max Reinhardt, the theatrical producer. 

p. 65 Placci: Carlo Placci, the actor, whom Rilke had met at Laut- 
schin the previous summer. 

D.S.: Princess Marie had begun, in the summer of 1911, 
calling Rilke Doctor Seraphicus or Dottor Serafico because 
she found "Rainer Maria Rilke" too long, "Rilke" too short,, 
and "Rainer Maria" not respectful enough (Erinnerungen y 
pp. 19-20). 

[31] p. 66 Voila ou nous sommes: that is where we are. 

The White Princess: G.W. I, pp. 365-401. A dramatic sketch, 
written with Duse in mind, which in its final form dates from 
1904. See [212], also Letters: 1892-1910, [60]. 

[34] p. 69 Anton Kippenberg: director of the Insel-Verlag and Rilke's 
publisher from 1906 until the poet's death. He was not only 
a warm personal friend but was also most generous with 
financial support over these years. 

Rilke's interest in Spain, which he himself dates from "those 
Roman days" (winter and spring 1903-04), but which the 
published letters suggest as having begun somewhat earlier 
(see [45] in Letters: 1892-1910), stems almost certainly from 


his meeting with Ignacio Zuloaga in Paris and his enthusiasm 
for the painter's work. Later the impact of Greco's paintings 
had come to reinforce this feeling for Spain and to lend 
greater urgency to his desire to go there. At a spiritualistic 
stance (described by the Princess in her Erinnerungen, pp. 
60-63; see also note to [35]) held during his visit to Duino, 
probably just about the time this letter was written, Rilke 
received a message apparently forecasting a trip to Spain. For 
a full discussion of the subject see Hans Gebser, Rilke und 
Spanien (Zurich, 1940). 

[35] P- 7 The bridges and the walls with chains: At the above- 
mentioned [34] seance in Duino (see also note to [36]), the 
planchette had communicated the following messages, to 
Rilke: "the bridges, the bridges with towers at beginning and 
end", also, "red earth glow steel chains churches 
bloody chains ". 

36] p. 72 Jesuit Ribadaneira: Pedro A. Ribadeneira (1527-1611), a 
hagiologist, an early follower of Ignatius Loyola. His most 
important work was his Life of Loyola, 1572. 

Dr. R.: Dr. Rziha, librarian at Duino. 

p. 73 Salone della Ragione: the great hall of the Palazzo della 
Ragione in Padua (because of it the palace itself is often 
called the "Salone"), the walls of which are covered with 
fifteenth-century frescoes representing the influence of the 
seasons and the constellations on human life. 

Cividale as a promise of the Tajo: Rilke felt the picturesque 
ravine of Cividale del Friuli, a town of Venetia in the prov- 
ince of Udine, to be a preparation for the great gorge of the 
Tagus (Tajo) river in Toledo. 

gigantic Cristobal: the so-called Cristobalon, a figure 46 
feet high painted on one of the walls of the Toledo Cathe- 
dral. Probably the inspiration for Rilke's poem "St. Christo- 
pher" (S.G.,o-io). 

p. 74 un cabochon enorme . . . : an enormous cabochon set in 
this terrible and sublime reliquary. 

the way you translate: the Princess had been making Italian 
translations of the Elegies. 

our Unknown: the spirit supposed to have sent the message 
described in the note to [35]. She was purported to have 
been a woman named Rosemonde Trarieu from Bayonne. 
Rilke even stopped off at Bayonne en route to Spain in a 
vain search for vestiges of the mysterious figure. 


p. 74 the Bulgarian . . . master in Constantinople: on November 
10, 1912, Bulgarian troops had entered Constantinople. 

[38] p. 77 his dream picture: Pasha had had a dream in which Rilke 
had said he would not remain in Toledo but would go far- 
ther south to a walled city (Erinnerungen, p. 63 ). 

p. 78 Blessed Angela: Angela da Foligno. See note to [24]. 

quand tous les sages . . . : though all the sages of the world 
and all the saints of paradise were to heap upon me their con- 
solations and their promises, and God himself his gifts, if 
he did not change me myself, if he did not begin at the 
bottom of me a new operation, instead of doing me good, the 
sages, the saints, and God would exasperate beyond all ex- 
pression my despair, my fury, my sorrow, my pain, and my 

p. 79 "Elective Affinities": Goethe's novel, Die W ahlverivandt- 

Old Men's Home: cf. "The Spanish Trilogy", G.W. Ill, 

[39] p. 8 1 Moses when he came from the mountain with horns of 
light: In many early paintings as well as in such works as 
Michelangelo's statue, Moses is portrayed with horns, a curi- 
ous tradition deriving from a mistranslation in the Vulgate 
of the Hebrew word meaning both "horn" and "irradiation". 
The Latin Bible gives "quod cornuta esset facies sua" where 
the King James version reads, "he wist not that the skin of his 
face shone." 

p. 82 au lieu de me penetrer . . . : instead of penetrating me, 
impressions pierce me. 

p. 83 Ellen Key: See note to [16]. Rilke had visited her in 1904. 

Fabre d'Olivet: Antoine Fabre D'Olivet (1768-1825), an 
eccentric literary figure, whose books Rilke had first met 
with in Toledo. Among other treatises he published La 
Langue hebraique restitute et le veritable sens des mots 
hebreux retabli et prouve par leur analyse radicate , 1816. 

Your husband: Professor Andreas was professor of Oriental 
languages at the University of Gottingen. 

To this letter Rilke appended copies of "To the Angel" 
(G.W. Ill, 449) and "The Assumption of the Virgin" (un- 
published), noting that they had been "written down in 


the meadowland, walking, this afternoon: and felt at once 
that you should have them." 

[40] p. 84 Cf. [120], [216] and notes. 

Two Elegies: the first two of the Duino Elegies. While in 
Spain Rilke also wrote the greater portion of the sixth Elegy 
and some of the ninth. 

Book of Hours: G.W. II, 175-293; A.W. I, 5-83. 
[42] p. 86 Annette Kolb: see note to [21]. 

Rundschau: Die Neue Rundschau, published by S. Fischer. 

Exemplar: Annette Kolb's novel, Das Exemplar (1913), which 
first appeared serially in the Rundschau. 

Tycho Brahe: (1546-1601), Danish astronomer, who on the 
night of November n, 1572, first observed the celebrated 
"new star" in Cassiopeia. 

Mariclee: heroine of Das Exemplar. 

p. 87 Portuguese Nun and Angela da Foligno: see notes to [21] 
and [24], 

car ce beau livre, etc.: for this beautiful book isn't literature, 
it is quite simply a state of grace isn't that enough for you? 

[43] p. 87 Paris: Rilke had returned to Paris at the end of February, 
a quelques exceptions pres: with a few exceptions. 

p. 88 la mort du pauvre . . . : the death of the poor man who 
dies, his head on one of these stones, is perhaps sweet after all. 

Marthe: see note to [19]. 

Bullier: the bal Bullier, dance hall in the Latin Quarter. 

*...*. The passage between asterisks, pp. 88-90, was writ- 
ten in French. 

p. 90 the little heron of Egypt: probably the cattle-egret or buff- 
backed heron that picks ticks off the backs of cattle. 

pretend que . . . : claims that blood came up in her throat. 
Verhaeren: Emile Verhaeren (1855-1916), the Belgian poet. 

p. 91 Mme. de C.: The Duchesse of Choiseul, an American by birth. 
See note to [16]. 

[44] p. 92 Jean-Christophe: Remain Rolland's long novel. 

p. 92 ce n'est pas de Tessence de rose . . . : It isn't essence of 
roses, certainly, but it is a tisane which has had time to be 
infused and which, if one lets it drip [sips it] slowly and with 
abandon, sometimes comes to remind you of the sweet in- 
timacy of the blissful Ifttle flower. 

Ancient music, an epitaph: The grave-inscription of Seikilos, 
near Pralles in Asia Minor, discovered in 1883, is one of the 
few complete examples extant of Greek music. Presumably 
the "spring melody taken from a Gregorian mass" would be 
the very similar melody of a Gregorian antiphon for Palm 
Sunday, Hosanna filio David, which has been assumed to be 
not so much a reproduction of this ancient piece as an adap- 
tation to their own uses, such as would have been entirely 
natural to later composers, of a melody-type current in 
antiquity. (Cf. [120]). 

C453 P- 93 Leipzig: Rilke was staying with his publisher, Anton Kip- 
penberg. He had left Paris in June to spend a month at Bad 
Rippoldsau in the Black Forest for his health, thereafter visit- 
ing Lou in Gottingen. 

[46] p. 93 Ellen Delp: a young friend (not actually Lou's daughter!). 
The issue of Philobiblon (Vol. 8, No. 10, 1935) commemorat- 
ing Rilke's sixtieth birthday contains her "Erinnerung", a 
brief reminiscence of Rilke. 

p. 94 Heiligendamm: an old watering place near Mecklenburg. 
Rilke was there in the company of Herr and Frau von Nostitz. 

[47] p. 94 Eva Cassirer: author of a comparative study of some of 
Rilke's early poems ("Mir zur Feier die Friihen gedichte: 
ein Vergleich", Die Frau, 1911/12, pp. 612-624). 

Munich: Rilke was in Munich from early September until 
the beginning of October. 

Tolstoy letters: Correspondence with Countess Alexandrine 

p. 95 personal contact: Rilke had met Tolstoy in Russia in 1899 and 
1900. See [15] in Letters: 1892-1910. 

Werfcl: Franz Werfel (1890-1945), poet, dramatist, perhaps 
most widely known in this country as the author of The 
Forty Days of Musa Dagh, The Song of Bernadette, etc. 

The Carrion Way: "Jesus and the Carrion Path". See Ge- 
s'dnge aus drei Reichen (Leipzig, 1917) and Franz Werfel: 
Poems, translated by Edith Abercrombie Snow, Princeton 
University Press, 1945. 

48] p. 95 Rilke had just returned to Paris. 

p. 96 Hellerau metier: Rilke had recently seen Claudel's "L'An- 
nonce fake a Marie" performed at an experimental theater in 
Hellerau (Leipzig), "a Kind of laboratory disturbing only 
because it is not fitting to assemble in a laboratory with such 
solemnity and emphasis and from afar; one should carry on 
in there, each with apron and protective glasses, as incon- 
spicuously as possible and watch the investigations unfolding 
in this light-retort under blue-green radiation." (November 
4, 1913, to Helene von Nostitz.) 

p. 97 "The Stranger": G.W. Ill, 231; A.W. I, 180. 

Und dies alles immer unbegeh- And to let all this go 

rend ever undesiring, seemed to him 

hinzulassen, schien ihm mehr more than his 

als seines life's delight, possession, fame. 

Lebens Lust, Besitz und Ruhm. 

[49] p. 98 Geheimrat Martersteig: then superintendent of the City 
Theaters in Leipzig. 

"tranquille, mais bien arme": "calm, but well armed". 

[50] p. 98 Reinhard Johannes Sorge: (1892-1916), a young writer of 
half -mystical dramas, a Catholic convert, especially drawn to 
Franciscan ideals, killed in the first World War before he 
had reached full development. 

"Emmaus": G.W. Ill, 386; "Journey to Hell": G.W. Ill, 
3 8 4 ;APF.I,330. 

Jacopone da Todi: (1230-1306), Franciscan mystical poet. 
These lines (p. 99) are from Lauda LXXXX: 

Love, Love that has so wounded me 
Nothing can I do but cry Love; 
Love, Love, with thee I am united, 
Nothing can I do but embrace thee. 

[51] p. 101 Schrenck-Notzing: Albert, Baron von Schrenck-Notzing, 
(1862-1929), the spiritualist, who had been investigating a 
number of well-known mediums who were using methods 
he himself had devised. 

you know something of these things; the Princess had for 
years been a member of the Society for Psychical Research. 

[52] p. 102 Thankmar, Baron von Miinchhausen: son of the poet Bor- 
ries von Miinchhausen. 

p. 103 Deubel: Leon Dcubel (1879-1921), French symbolist poet. 

poetes maudits: The subjects of a series of critical essays by 
Paul Verlaine, later revised and published under this title 
in 1884, include: Tristan Corbiere, Arthur Rimbaud, Ste*- 
phane Mallarme, Marceline Desbordes- Valmore, Villiers de 
1'Isle-Adam, and Pauvre L61ian who was Verlaine himself. 

cette misere reveche qui s'entete: that harsh misery that 
obstinately persists. 

heur and malheur: good fortune and bad. 
[53] p. 104 Tolstoy's correspondence: see [47] and note. 

aunt of Tolstoy's: probably the wife of Nikolai Tolstoy, 
a distant relative of Leo Tolstoy, with whom Rilke and 
Lou Andreas-Salome stayed in July 1900, on their second 
trip to Russia. 

p. 105 Prince Myshkin: hero of Dostoievsky's novel The Idiot. 

[54] p. 107 passages concerning Charles the Bold: G.W. V, 2 24-23 2 j 
/.O.S., 180-186. 

[55] p. 108 comme tout change . . . : how everything changes, and 
one doesn't know when one diminishes ... It is always 
that that frightens me most. 

"malade un peu": slightly ill. 

Meudon: where Rodin had his studio and where Rilke had 
lived during the brief period of his so-called secretaryship. 

incident of last spring: Rodin, for political reasons, had 
broken his agreement to let Clara Rilke do a bust of him. 

p. 109 "Retour dc 1'enfant prodigue": Gide's story, "The Return 
of the Prodigal Son 1 ', which Rilke translated (G.W. VI, 

Insel-Bvicherei: The Insel-Vcrlag's popular series of little, 
figured-papcr-bound books. 

[56] p. 109 "Swann": Du cdte de chez Sivann, published in November 
1913 by Bernard Grassct at Proust's own expense, had re- 
ceived little notice and was accounted a failure. Rilke was 
one of the few immediately to recognize its significance. 

[57] p. 1 10 Rilke had left Paris in April and had just been to Duino. 

the Mezzanino: The Princess's apartment in Venice, in the 
palace of her friends the Valmaranas. 

p. i io II faut que . . . : I must recover, find myself again, that 
will take a long time and I do not think it will happen here. 

p. 1 1 1 how far I am from the "poverello": for Rilke's earlier atti- 
titude toward St. Francis, see closing verses of the Book of 
Hours, G.W. II, 291 ff.; A.W. I, 103-104. 

que nous importe . . . : which is what the good heart of 
that little market town of Umbria means to us. 

"lovely", "charming": Rilke uses the English words. 

[59] p. in Paris: Rilke returned at the end of May for what proved 
to be his last visit to Paris before the first World War. 

p. 1 12 A kind of future is past: Rilke had just passed through the 
intense experience of his relationship with Magda von 
Hattingberg. Many of his letters to and conversations with 
her have been included in Rilke und Benvenuta, em Buch 
des Dankes (Wilhelm Andermann Verlag, Vienna, 1946). 
The letters are beautiful, but seemed not suitable for inclu- 
sion in this book, out of their proper context. For similar 
reasons we have not included the letters to Elya Maria 
Neva (Freundschaft ?nit Ralner Maria Rilke [1918-1923], 
Albert Zust Verlag, Bern, 1946) and Claire Goll "Liliane" 
(Briefe an eine Fretmdi?i, 1918-1925, published in a lim- 
ited edition in Aurora VI, Herbert Steiner, editor, 1944). 

p. 113 exuberant "S": Rilke refers to his writing of the letters in 
German script, which at that time was exaggeratedly long, 
expressing his gay mood. 

p. 1 15 Stefan George: (1868-1933), the German poet. 
The Star of the Covenant: published in 1914. 

Elberfeld horses: Maeterlinck's essay was also published in 
a volume entitled The Unknown Guest, New York, 1914. 
These highly trained animals, said to be capable of such 
feats as counting, had excited considerable interest at this 

t6o] p. 116 "Turning": G.W. Ill, 460-462; A.W. I, 309-310. 

p. 115 dolls: Rilke's essay, "Dolls", inspired by the wax dolls of 
Lotte Pritzel, G.W. IV, 265-277; A.W. II, 265-273. Illus- 
trations of eleven of these dolls or puppets appear in Das 
Puppenbuch (E. Reiss, Berlin, 1921) in connection with 
Theodor Daubler's article on "Die Puppen der Lotte 


[61] p. 1 17 The outbreak of the first World War found Rilke staying 
with the Kippenbergs in Leipzig. On July 9 he had written 
Heir Kippenberg from Paris that he was working regularly, 
scarcely leaving his room "except for a little exercise under 
the depressing trees of the Luxembourg which since the last 
hot-spell stand there quite parboiled and almost leafless", 
and Frau Kippenberg reports that when he arrived in 
Leipzig he did not look well. One evening he read the 
parts of the Duino Elegies that had already been written. 
Then came the news of Russia's mobilization, of which 
Rilke, "like the political child he was", remarked that it 
was "surely just a gesture". Next day Germany was under 
arms. While they waited for Herr Kippenberg to bring 
further news from the city that night, Rilke fetched his 
Bible and read aloud "about Elijah, from the Book of Kings, 
hesitatingly, softly and with long pauses." 

As an Austrian, Rilke risked internment if he returned 
to Paris. On August i, accordingly, he left instead for 

p. 117 verses: two of the "Five Songs, August 1914", which first 
appeared in the Insel Almanac for 1915 (G.W. Ill, 389; 
A.W. I, 322). Rilke wrote down these five songs in the 
volume of Holderlin (see [63] and note) which he carried 
about with him at Irschenhausen (together with a sixth, 
"Thee will 1 praise, flag", not included in the first published 
edition nor in G.W., but now S.G., 36, and A.W. I, 328). 
As Frau Kippenberg suggests, the excitement of his de- 
parture from Leipzig the crowds, the bulletins and ru- 
mors, the first sight of soldiers on the move and what he 
saw in that day's journey across southern Germany the 
armed men, the singing, the farewells of women, old farm- 
ers hastening near to wave their caps to the soldiers in the 
passing train these must have swept Rilke into the cur- 
rent of exalted excitement and caused him to give vent to 
these only and quickly deprecated war poems. 

p. 1 1 8 an officer: young von Miinchhausen was serving as a lieu- 
tenant of Hussars. 

[62] p. n 8 Anna, Baroness von Miinchhausen: Thankmar's mother. 

[63] p. 119 my doctor: Dr. Emil von Stauffenberg, on whose advice 
Rilke was spending three weeks in Munich. 

friends in Bohemia: the Prince and Princess von Thurn und 


p. 1 19 the Holderlin volume: a privately circulated selection from 
Vol. IV of Norbert von Hellingrath's edition of Holderlin. 
In it Rilke also wrote down the lines "To Holderlin" (now 
S.G., 37; A.W. I, 328). He had written von Hellingrath 
(July 24) that Holderlin's "influence on me is large and 
generous as only that of the richest and inwardly most 
powerful can be." 

Hyperion: Holderlin's novel. 

[64] p. 120 Freiburg: Rilke had again been playing with the idea of 
studying at a small university, this time at Freiburg. 

p. 121 pages written in August: again the five war-poems. 
[66] p. 122 mournful news: the death of Prince Taxis' mother. 

[67] p. 123 From Berlin, whither he had hastened at the news that 
Heymel (see [28] and note) was dying, Rilke wrote his 
friend Hans Carossa, the doctor-writer, on the evening of 
November 24, describing in some detail the sick man's con- 
dition and treatment (he died on November 26). At the 
beginning of the war, Heymel had temporarily triumphed 
over a spreading tubercular infection, served for five weeks, 
on horseback "and there the end eluded him, only to eat 
him away so horribly here . . . Dear Carossa, do you sit at 
such bedsides!?" 

[68] p. 124 Johannes Kalckreuth: son of the painter Leopold Kalck- 

[69] p. 124 Karl and Elisabeth von der Heydt: a banker and poet, and 
his wife, whom Rilke had met through Countess Schwerin 
and who had been very generous to him in earlier days 
(see Letters: 1892-1910). Part I of the New Poems, pub- 
lished late in 1907, was dedicated to them. 

p. 125 leaving all my possessions: in April 1915, at the instigation 
of his Paris landlord, all Rilke's belongings were auctioned 
off and scattered (see [84] ) "not maliciously, he simply 
wanted to get his rent, for no one could assure him that I 
still existed and would pay." Friends managed to reassem- 
ble a few boxes. The daguerreotype of his father, subject 
of the poem "Portrait of My Father as a Young Man" 
(G.W. Ill, 69) was restored to him after the war and is now 
in the Rilke Archive at Weimar. 

[70] p. 1 26 Written as postscript to a letter of the preceding day. Rilke 
was on his way to Wiirzburg with the thought of studying 

p. 126 The Cornet: The narrative prose-poem, The Tale of the 
Love and Death of Cornet Christopher Rilke (G.W. IV, 
5-34; A.W. II, 309-322), though written in 1899, was not 
published until 1906. 

[71] p. 126 "I, who for years have not harbored one, have a large 
Christmas tree, as though a child were invisibly here or I 
should rejoice like a child ; dear friends did this for me, 
and I took possession of it, was aware of it in my heart's 
purview, into which nothing enters very easily these days." 
(To Anton Kippenberg, December 28.) 

[73] p. 127 the music to the Cornet: This setting by Kasimir von 
Paszthory (Kistner und Siegel, Leipzig) was performed at 
Leipzig, "once before a large number of people, the other 
time at a little Schlosschen near L.", and again in Vienna, 
in the palace of Prince Franz Auersperg. 

Frau von Hattingberg: see note to [59]. 

[74] p. 128 Ludwig von Picker: editor of the Brenner Verlag's fort- 
nightly publication. A week later, as nothing fresh had 
come to his mind, Rilke sent von Picker the lines from his 
notebook beginning "Straining so against the strong night" 
("So angestrengt wider die starke Nacht", G.W. Ill, 398), 
saying he had hesitated over a title and finally let it go, but 
asking that particular attention be paid to his punctuation 
marks and to the lower-case letters at the beginning of 

[75] p. 128 The Cornet: as many comments throughout his corre- 
spondence reveal, Rilke did not entertain a very high 
opinion of this youthful work. Learning that a first edition 
of the New Poems , not yet out of print, had brought 370 
marks at the Heymel auction and the "old Cornet" three 
times that amount, he remarked that "people are simply 
crazy in this respect too" (to Clara Rilke, November 4, 

[76] p. 130 A man otherwise quite a recluse: Alfred Schuler (d. 1923), 
whose only published writings are contained in the pri- 
vately printed "Alfred Schuler, Dichtungen. Aus dem 
Nachlass." Schuler's ideas must have impressed Rilke more 
than superficially, since their influence, as Rilke himself was 
aware (see [200] ), may be traced in the Duino Elegies and 
Sonnets to Orpheus. 

[78] p. 132. The finest Picasso: Rilke had asked Frau Hertha Koenig, 
owner of the "Saltimbanques", whether he might stay at 


her apartment while looking for the right little house in 
the country: "I would beg for a bed in the guestroom for 
myself, a bed for my housekeeper, the kitchen, and permis- 
sion to work at your magnificent desk ; everything else 
would remain locked up; at most I would on some after- 
noon sit for a long time before the Picasso, which gives me 
courage for this beginning, just as the certainty does that 
in your good rooms perhaps in a hand's turn I would fall 
into that disposition to work which I have not known for 
months." He remained here until after October 10. The 
picture (Paris, 1905) is now at the Art Institute in Chicago 
on extended loan from the Chester Dale Collection. It is 
reproduced in Werner Wolff's Rainer Maria Rilkes Duine- 
ser Elegien (Heidelberg, 1937), and in D.E. It was the chief 
inspiration for the Fifth Elegy, which is dedicated to Frau 

[79] p. 132 News about Duino: Later the castle was badly damaged. 
The Princess, returning in 1918, found it "but a phantom." 

Wozzek: The play by Georg Biichner (1813-1851), one of 
the creators of German expressionist drama, provided the 
text for Alban Berg's opera of that name, performed in 
Philadelphia and New York in 1930 under the direction of 
Leopold Stokowski. 

[80] p. 134 Le monde . . . : "the world is terrible . . . 

[81] p. 135 the reading: Rilke had written Frau Bruckmann (July 13) 
that rereading the Book of Hours (written 1899-1903, now 
G.W. II; A.W. I) had so "lifted and built him up" that he 
thought it might, if he could read it "resolutely and con- 
vincingly", be of similar influence on others now. 

[82] p. 136 Regina Ullmann: A Swiss writer. According to her Erin- 
nerungen an Rilke (St. G alien, 1946), their friendship be- 
gan in 1908 when she asked Rilke for his opinion of her 
"Field Sermon". His enthusiastic response gave her confi- 
dence to pursue her career. He also was largely responsible 
for the inclusion of the work in the Insel-Biicherei. 

[83] p. 138 Marthe: See note to [19]. 

II n'y aura . . . : there will be before me only disasters, 
terrors, indescribable anguish; it is with you that the good 
things of my life finish 

[84] p. 140 the "Unknown": see note to [36], 

p. 140 qui n'est pas une auberge . . . : which is not an inn but a 
fine crossroads just the same. 

p. 141 restons dehors: let us stay outside. 

et moi, si j'ai . . . : and for myself, if I still have any 
future, it will be by starting again humbly that I shall ar- 
rive at it. 

Paris belongings: see note to [69], 
p. 142 voyez quel debris: you see what rubbish. 

Je suis un enfant . . . : I am a child who would like about 
him only more and more adult childhoods. 

[85] p. 143 irritating press: it may be well to remind ourselves of 
what went on in these times by reading an account of the 
press reports manufactured by all the warring nations, like 
that in Joseph Ward Swain's Beginning the Twentieth 
Century (pp. 454-456). 

[87] p. 145 On leaving Widenmayerstrasse, Rilke lived at the villa of 
Frau Renee Alberti, in Schwabing, near the Englischer 
Garten. He had been obliged to remain in Munich waiting 
for his class to be called up: "Nothing is more torturesome 
to me." 

[88] p. 146 This letter was first published, together with one to an 
imaginary worker of the postwar period, in the little vol- 
ume Uber Gott (Insel-Verlag, Leipzig, 1933). 

p. 150 Wilhelm Fliess: The book referred to is probably Vom 
Leben und Tod, Lectures in Biology (ind ed., 1914), by 
William Fliess. Fliess evolved a theory about the numer- 
ically determinable periodicity of certain dates important 
to the course of people's lives. His principal work was 
Ablauf des Lebens (1906). 

The "hideous cup": see the poem "Death" (G.W. Ill, 413; 
A.W. I, 339), written at this time (November, 1915). 

[89] p. 151 Saonara: the villa of Countess V., near Padua, whither the 
Princess had driven Rilke on one of their numerous expedi- 
tions from Duino, in September 1912. 

[90] p. 152 Turnau: in German Bohemia, where, as Rilke was born 
in Prague, he might presumably have been sent for his 
military training. 


p. 152 Rilke was now on four days' leave from Vienna (where he 
had stayed until the middle of January with his "extremely 
kind and helpful friends the Taxis' " in the Victorgasse), 
to find some seventy letters piled up on his desk in Munich, 
the accumulation of two months' correspondence. Ac- 
cording to his military pass, the examination in Munich 
on November 24 had shown him, contrary to all expecta- 
tion and much to the concern of his friends, fit for armed 
service in the reserve. At the subsequent examination in 
Vienna (February 15) his physical unfitness was acknowl- 
edged, but only after the barracks experience. Finally, at 
the instigation of Frau Kippenberg, who, in the name of 
the Insel- Verlag, sent to the Austrian ministries of war and 
defense a petition signed by many well-known intellectuals, 
he was granted indefinite leave of absence from service 
(June 9, 1916). Frau Kippenberg reports that during this 
period he struck perhaps die lowest point of his life's curve: 
in his discouragement he wanted to give up writing and 
again seriously considered becoming a doctor. 

p. 153 Michelangelo: Rilke's translations of the Sonnets of Mi- 
chelangelo (G.W. VI, 213-271; A.W. II contains only two; 
also separately published in No. 496 of the Insel-Biicherei). 
See [174]. 

[91] p. 154 Hugo von Hofmannsthal: (1874-1929), the Austrian poet. 
Frau Kippenberg writes that "when Hofmannsthal heard 
of Rilke's plight ... he exclaimed with wonderful sym- 
pathy, 'the poor child!', striking to the black depths of the 
situation as only poets can." 

p. 155 Your Picasso: the picture an early self-portrait, high in 
color, on a blue background still belongs to von Hof- 
mannsthal's daughter, Frau Christiane Zimrner. 

Rilke returned to Munich in July, but on September 18 
wrote Kippenberg that the "seven months of disconnec- 
tion" had so fundamentally unsettled him that he might, 
somewhat reluctantly, have to seek a change of place, per- 
haps offer his services to the Insel- Verlag in Leipzig, 
though his hopes still clung to "this desk and the three 
folders of MS m a certain drawer". 

[92] p. 155 Jacobsen: Jens Peter Jacobsen (1847-1885), the Danish 
poet. See [204], [210]. 

[93] p. 156 Imma von Ehrenfels: the fiance'e of Norbert von Hellin- 
grath (see note to [63]), who had fallen before Verdun, 
December 14, 1916. 

[94] p- 157 the military school: Rilke refers again and again through- 
out his correspondence to the five years of his life spent 
at military schools: September 1886 to September 1890 
at St. Polten, September 1890 to April 1891 at Mahrisch- 
Weisskirchen. See [150] and the introduction to Y.P. 

translations: presumably of the Michelangelo Sonnets (see 

[95] p. 158 Franz Marc: the German painter, born in 1880, is perhaps 
best known in this country for his Red Horses (about 1909) 
shown with other of his works at the Museum of Modern 
Art in New York in 1931. 

[96] p. 159 Chiemsee: Rilke had spent the last two weeks of June at 
this Bavarian lake, and had made up his mind to give up 
his Munich apartment and go for the rest of the summer to 
Gut Bockel bei Bieren, Westphalia, the estate of Frau Koe- 

these poems: over a year later (September, 1918) Rilke 
gave the manuscript of what there was of the Elegies to 
Herr Kippenberg for safekeeping, remarking that he would 
probably never finish them. The Princess Thurn und Taxis- 
Hohenlohe reports that when she saw him in June, 1921, 
at Rolle, in Switzerland, he read her some further frag- 
ments, new to her though written some time earlier, and 
that in his profound discouragement he had almost decided 
to let the Insel-Verlag publish the material as it was. 

[97] p. 1 60 Stifter: Adalbert Stifter (1805-1868). Indian Summer, his 
most celebrated novel, was a favorite with Nietzsche, who 
kept it at his bedside. 

Herr von Kuhlmann: Richard von Kiihlmann had also been 
councilor of the German Embassy in London for the six 
years preceding the war (see note to [102]). 

[99] p. 162 Countess Mary Gneisenau: A writer (Aus dem Tale der 
Sehnsucht, Der Tod Adrian Guldenkrons, etc.) and an old 
friend of Rilke's (see [117], [120], [127] in Letters: 

Gut Bockel: The house at Bockel was an old moated West- 
phalian manor behind a high screen of lindens; the land- 
scape was strange, the weather wet, but Rilke enjoyed his 
tower-room and its two roomy alcoves with old windows 
deeply recessed in the masonry walls. 

p. 163 correspondence with a child: the correspondence of Bet- 
tina (Brentano) von Arnim and Goethe. See [13] and 
Letters: 1892-1910, [194] and note. 

Gustave Sack: born 1885, fell in Rumania in 1916. 

[100] p. 163 Dr. Wolf Przygode: editor of Die Dichtung, in the first 
number of which ( Roland- Verlag, Munich, 1918) appear 
the five poems in question: "From a Spring" ("Aus einem 
Fnihling [Paris]"), "The Doves", ("Die Tauben"), "One 
must die because one knows them ... [old Egyptian 
papyrus]", ("Man muss sterben, weil man sie kennt . . . 
[altagyptischer Papyros]"), "Lament" ("Klage" [G.W. 
Ill, 409-412; only the last in A.W. I, 321]), and "Christ's 
Journey to Hell" ("Christi Hollenfahrt", \G.W. Ill, 384- 

[102] p. 165 Rilke was "half against his will" spending some nine weeks 
in Berlin, "seeing over and over again people of all sorts, 
in order to take instruction from them in current events 
and changes which, even if I have to breathe among them, 
remain for me a theme indescribably inflected." 

Since the Russian Revolution, unrest had been increasing in 
Central Europe. Germany's political system had for some 
months been giving way under the strain of war. Bethmann- 
Hollweg had fallen in July. The Center and Majority So- 
cialists had passed a peace resolution in the Reichstag 
and Kiihlmann (see note to [97] ), who was to fall in June 
1918, over the question of a negotiated peace, had been 
made foreign minister. 

p. 1 66 Keyserlingk: Rilke's correspondence with young Count 
Keyserlingk has unfortunately been lost. 

Uexkiill: Baron Jacob J. von Uexkiill, the naturalist. He 
mentions Rilke in his Niegeschaute Welten (Berlin, 1936). 

[103] p. 167 Rodin's death: at Meudon on November 17, 1917. 
Grandmother: Clara's mother, Frau Westhoff. 

[104] p. 1 68 Bernhard von der Marwitz of Friedersdorf: (1890-1918), 
a young poet whose journal was published in 1924, and a 
volume of his letters and war-diaries (edited by Harald 
von Konigswald under the title Stirb und Werde, W. G. 
Korn, Breslau) in 1931. He greatly admired Holderlin, 
Rodin, Rilke and Paul Claude!, and was translating some 
of Claudel's poems into German when he was called to 
the colors. 


p. 1 68 the poems: probably the translations of the Michelangelo 
Sonnets (see [90] and note and [174]), on which Rilke 
had been working at intervals for some time. "I won't be 
hurting anybody by it, for since the few masterly transla- 
tions of Hermann Grimm no attempt of any value has come 
to anything" (September 12, 1916). Grimm's translations 
are scattered through his Leben Michelangelos (1860- 

Claudel: Paul Claudel, the French poet and dramatist, later 
ambassador to the United States. 

[105] p. 169 your little book: Drei Briefe an einen Knaben (1918) writ- 
ten for her son. Rilke had read it in 1914 and had written 
Lou his impressions of it (February 20, 1914). 

the maternal body: see Eighth Elegy, lines 43-65 (G.W. 
Ill; A.W. I; D.E.). 

[107] p. 171 household of my own: Rilke had left the Hotel Continental 
for his new apartment at Ainmillerstrasse 34 IV, out in 
Schwabing and next door to Paul Klee, the painter. 

The rising cost of living and the exceptional demands of 
getting settled made very welcome a large money order 
from the Insel-Verlag, besides which Frau Kippenberg had 
sent a hamper of linen and bedding which delighted the 
soul of Rosa, the housekeeper. 

[109] p. 174 Bernhard von der Marwitz had died of wounds in a field 
hospital near Valenciennes on September 8. See note to 

[no] p. 176 Marie von Bunsen: author of books of travel in the Far 
East and in Germany, The Lost Courts of Europe, and 
The World I Used to Know 1860-1912 (in which Rilke 
is twice mentioned in passing). 

Ansbach: Rilke had been to the beautiful little medieval 
town in his search for a "protected and lasting refuge", had 
even expressly advertised for "a quiet garden apartment 
or garden pavilion". But, feeling that such a place is better 
happened upon than sought after, and that the moment 
had perhaps not come, he was now considering a journey 
to Switzerland as a way of stirring himself out of his 
creative immobility. 

p. 177 people through whom the past remains connected with us: 
elsewhere in this letter, Rilke speaks of his regret at having 
missed some hours with Richard Voss, the dramatist and 

novelist (1851-1918), and more particularly, the chance of 
meeting Lady Blennerhasset (Charlotte Julia von Leyden, 
1843-1917), whose essays in the history of literature he was 
just reading and whose steadiness through the difficult years 
could have helped him, he was sure, if he could only have 
listened to her occasionally for half an hour. 

[112] p. 179 Unrest had been fast increasing in Germany and the re- 
quest for an armistice led to further chaos, political and 
mental. Just before the fall of the Imperial Government 
at Berlin, revolution broke out in Munich. Kurt Eisner, 
Independent Socialist, was released from prison in time to 
organize his forces; on November 5 he demanded a re- 
public; on the 6th, while the soldiers' and workers' council 
was being set up, the King of Bavaria fled; on the 7th Eisner 
formally proclaimed the Bavarian Republic with himself 
as president. 

p. 181 Grandmama Phia: Rilke's mother was still living in Prague, 
where the Czech national council was setting up the new 
republic of Czechoslovakia. 

[114] p. 182 Herr von Kaufmann's proposals: concerned the resump- 
tion of personal relations between individuals of the various 
countries that had been at war. 

[115] p. 182 Concerning Rilke's military service, see [90] and note. 
[116] p. 183 the revolution: See note to [112]. 

[117] p. 184 First published in the Berliner Tageblatt, December 29, 
1936. "We have known each other for two years, Anni 
Mewes. Only acquaintance with me has become a sad busi- 
ness, not easily put into effect. My, how I enjoyed you in 
those days in Vienna, and here too in your rooms in the 
Pension Romana, where you kept me so protectingly 
warm ! " ( Good Friday, 1918). 

[118] p. 185 Baroness Schenk: A niece of Frau Alice Faehndrich at 
whose Capri villa Rilke had been a fellow guest in 1907. 
See Letters: 1892-1910, [196] and note, and [207]. 

p. 1 86 Caroline Schlegel-Schelling: ( 1 763-1 809) , daughter of Pro- 
fessor Michaelis, oriental scholar at Gottingen, was closely 
linked with the leaders of the German Romantic school. 
She married Wilhelm Schlegel, older brother of Friedrich, 
in 1796, and F. W. J. Schelling in 1803. The reference is to 
Caroline, Brief e aus der Fruhromantik, enlarged edition, 
after Georg Waitz, by Erich Schmidt (Leipzig, 1913). 


[119] p. 1 86 your cuff links: This reference suggests that the addressee 
is Emil Lettre\ the artist-goldsmith (1876- ) author of 
Kleinodien (1923). 

four of my contributions: See [120] and note. 
[120] p. 187 The Insel Almanac: for 1919. 

sad event: the death of the Countess 1 husband, Dr. von 
Stauffenberg (see note to [63]). 

p. 1 88 the Comtesse de Noailles's lovely poem: Les vivants et les 
worts: "Tu vis, je bois Tazur", which Rilke had translated 
(G.W. VI, 340; AW. II, 355). 

two little experiments: "Death" (see [88] and note) and 
"Narcissus" (G.W. Ill, 416). 

"An Experience": (G.W. IV, 280; A.W. HI, 256) describes 
a state of mind Rilke experienced while leaning against a 
tree in the garden of Duino where, according to his habit, 
he had been walking up and down with a book in which 
he seemed to have "come out on the other side of Na- 
ture", more keenly understanding objects because remote 
from them, as though in his present embodiment experi- 
encing a kind of return, a looking out over things from 
the recess of a deserted window (Cf. [40], [216] and 
notes). Carossa recalls that when Rilke was reading this 
piece aloud to him, in the studio in Munich, the maid 
coming in with tea slipped and the tray crashed; she picked 
up herself and the pieces, disappeared, and presently re- 
turned with fresh tea things the quiet reading never 
ceased, Rilke seemed never even to have noticed the dis- 

a fragment of ancient music: See [44] and note. 

[121] p. 189 Verhaeren: See note to [43]. The poet met his death in 
a railway accident in the station at Rouen, November 27, 

"Flammes hautes": (in Choix de poemes, 1916, Mercure de 
France) opens: 

Dites, quel est le pas 

Des mille pas qui vont et passent 

Sur les grand'routes de 1'espace, 

Dites, quel cst le pas 

Qui doucement, un soir, devant ma porte basse 



p. 189 A single translation (1919) from Verhaeren, "The Dead", 
appears in A.W. II, 365. 

[123] p. 190 the malicious agitation about Rodin: the acquisition of 
some bronzes, by a well-known amateur and an artiste 
parisienne, from Rodin's usual caster, had given rise to the 
question of the authenticity of the pieces and hence to the 
"affaire des faux Rodins" (see "A propos des faux Rodins", 
by "un sculpteur", Revue de Paris, xxvi, no. 6, March 15, 

[124] p. 192 The socialist republican government of Bavaria had set up 
a provisional constitution; but on February 21, the day the 
Diet was to meet, Eisner was shot dead in the street by a 
reactionary Nationalist officer. 

[126] p. 193 infringements and interferences: from February to April, 
Germany was torn by civil war, great strikes taking place 
in the Ruhr, in Berlin, in Wiirttemberg. In Munich, the 
murder of Eisner had led to communist uprisings and the 
establishment on April 6 of a soviet or councils republic 
( Rate-Rep ublik). This rule lasted until about May i, 
when it was overthrown after fierce fighting, and the 
former socialist republican government, with Hoffmann as 
minister-president, again took charge, a new constitution 
being laid before the Diet on May 5 and put into effect 
August 14. During May a sort of White Terror reigned. 
(Wilhelm Hausenstein, the art-historian, says, in Stimmen 
der Freunde, ed. by Gert Buchheit, 1931, that Rilke was 
aroused at five o'clock one morning by the tread of 
army -boots and the knock of a rifle butt, and accused of 
being a "bolshevik", and that it was this experience that 
drove him from Munich and from Germany. He was also 
said to have been labeled "a Czech perverting the German 

p. 194 not gained much in health: before Rilke left for Switzer- 
land early in June he happened on Carossa, returning 
slightly wounded from the front. Knowing Rilke's custom 
of fasting when he did not feel well, the doctor suspected 
from his appearance that he had had an involuntary over- 
dose of this treatment, and before even examining him as 
Rilke asked him to do, filled out the formulas necessary 
for getting seriously sick patients extra allowances of the 
milk, butter, eggs and flour which Rilke's "vegetarian" diet 
made necessary. 

[127] p. 194 Rilke left Munich about June n, and the cities he "had to 
do with" were Geneva, Bern and Zurich. On July 24 he 


went to visit the painter R. R. Junghanns and his wife 
Inga, Danish translator of M.L.B., in Sils Baselgia in the 
Upper Engadine. Frau Junghanns tells how her husband 
wondered whether Rilke would still be able to laugh, and 
how, as the first evening wore on in the long and intimate 
talk of friends reunited, the two men began capping each 
other's funny stories about the North German fisherfolk, 
until they were all laughing "as they had not laughed for 
three years." He left here after four days by the mail coach, 
to drive over the Maloja Pass to Soglio in the Bergell, in a 
southern valley of Graubiinden. Here he lived at the Pen- 
sion Willy, the former Palazzo Sails. 

[128] p. 199 quand-meme, la vie . . . : even so, life, destitute as it 
seems, has astonishing generosities. 

p. 200 an old room full of books: the library was opened to him 
as a refuge, the quietest part of the Gasthaus, where the 
noise of playing children could not reach him. 

the poets: Albrecht von Haller (1708-1777) and the lyri- 
cist, Johann Gaudenz, Baron von Salis-Seewis (1762-1834). 

[129] p. 201 Elisabeth von Schmidt-Pauli: author of Rainer Maria 
Rilke, ein Gedenkbuch (Basel, Benno Schwabe & Co., 

p. 202 (travail repousse) : repoussd work, relief designs hammered 
on metal from the reverse side. 

[130] p. 203 Vogeler: Heinrich Vogeler, painter and illustrator, to 
whom he dedicated the Life of Mary (see note to [22]), 
was an old friend of Rilke and his wife from the early days 
among the Worpswede artists who form the subject of 
the profusely illustrated monograph Worpswede (1910). 
Rilke's letters to Vogeler are unfortunately lost. 

[131] p. 204 Gertrud Ouckama Knoop: wife of the novelist, Gerhard 
Julius Ouckama Knoop (1861-1913), and mother of the 
young Vera to whose memory the Sonnets to Orpheus are 
dedicated (see [175] and note). 

[132] p. 207 Rilke left Soglio toward the end of September, and after 
meeting Marthe at Begnins, went to visit friends in Nyon. 
But here there were too many people for his taste, and he 
resumed his wanderings, to Zurich, then Locarno. 

[133] p. 208 (. . . my first Zurich reading): Rilke had "just put an end 
to my curious public behavior on Friday in Winterthur, 
reading in a little old theater, before a green curtain, by the 


light of two candles, within the frame of an old-fashioned 
stage-set, flanked right and left by a Biedermeier muse. I 
broke through this milieu to some extent ... In Bern 
I read in the great Council Hall from the president's desk 
. . . had the people in my palm like a four-in-hand" (to 
Countess M., December i, 1919). Various plans had fallen 
through, but he reports to Anton Kippenberg that his 
"evenings" have made him some good Swiss friends who 
are also thinking about his living problem. 

p. 208 The patrician Burckhardts: See [152] and note. 

p. 209 Inselschiff: the quarterly publication of the Insel-Verlag. 

[134] p. 209 Dr. Hiinich: Fritz Adolf Hunich, author of the Rilke Bib- 
liography (Insel-Verlag, 1935). 

that general introduction: the introductory talk to Rilke's 
reading of his poems before the Hottingen Reading Circle 
in Zurich (in October) is preserved as MSS 293/4 * n tne 
Rilke Archive. 

p. 210 Aksakov Chronicle: Sergiei Timofeivitch Aksakov's Fam- 
ily Chronicle, the Russian classic (German translation, 
Insel-Verlag, 1919). 

the "Bibliotheca Mundi": a new undertaking of the Insel- 
Verlag to put out books in their original languages. 

tower room: the room Rilke always occupied when visit- 
ing the Kippenbergs at Leipzig. 

[135] p. 211 very important book: Die Elemente der menschlichen 
Gro'sse (1921). 

[136] p. 212 so large a "W": the play on the German letter and word 
"W" (Weh), pain or suffering (or woe), is lost in trans- 

[137] p. 213 Leopold von Schlozer: author, editor of the little Rainer 
Maria Rilke auf Capri: Gesprache (Dresden, Wolfgang 
Jess, 1931). 

p. 214 par hasard plutot: rather by chance. 

p. 215 C'est le monde etc.: It is the world that is sick, and the rest 
is a matter of suffering. 

[138] p. 215 Dory von der Muhll: sister of Carl Burckhardt (see [152] 
and note). Rilke was now staying at the old family resi- 
dence of the Burckhardts. 


[139] p. 216 Rilke had gone to stay with the Princess Thurn und Taxis- 
Hohenlohe at her apartment in Venice, in the palazzo 
of the Countess Valmarana. 

p. 217 Giudecca: one of the islands of Venice. 

[140] p. 219 energetic influence of a friend: Count Zech, the Austrian 
Ambassador, without whose intervention Rilke would have 
been unable to return to Munich, since through the par- 
tition of Austria he had become a citizen of Czechoslovakia. 

Fiirstenbergs': Prince Egon Fiirstenberg had, at Frau Kip- 
penberg's instigation, offered Rilke a little house in a park 
in the Euganean hills, near Padua. 

[141] p. 220 my own life there: Rilke stayed on in Venice after his 
hostess had left. 

p. 221 the biography of Dostoievsky: Dostojeivski geschildert 
von seiner Tochter (Erlenbach-Zurich, 1920). 

[142] p. 221 Oswald von Kutschera: Rilke's nephew. 

Paris: it is not clear whether Rilke had any concrete plans 
to go there; in fact, as late as August 21, he speaks of his 
expected return to Munich early in September, begging 
Herr Kippenberg's support of this move, as it will in many 
ways be so difficult for him. 

[143] p. 222 Helene Burckhardt-Schatzman: sister-in-law of Carl 
Burckhardt (See [152] and note). 

"Peintres Genevois": The Genoese painters, title of a book 
by Band-Bovy (Geneva, 1903-04). 

p. 223 Liotard: Jean Etienne Liotard (1702-89), a portrait painter 
born in Geneva, who spent five years in Constantinople, 
assuming the clothes and customs of the Turks. On return- 
ing to Europe he continued to wear the exotic dress; a self- 
portrait shows him with turban and flowing beard, but in 
time he married and thereafter the portraits are beardless. 

lace: see "Lace" ("Die Spitze"), G.W. Ill, 54; AW. I, 
163; also M.L.B., G.W. V, 162-165; A.W. II, 116-117; 
/.O.S., 129-131. 

Agasse: Jacques Laurent Agasse (1767-1849), the animal 
painter, likewise a native of Geneva. 

Saint-Ours: Jean Pierre Saint-Ours (1752-1809), another 
Genevan and a painter of genre, historical scenes and 


144] p **4 my little house: on the Princess* estate in Bohemia, which 
seemed too far out of his present way to be practicable. 

j'en conviens: I agree. 

Pitoeff: George Pitoeff, (d. 1939), the Russian director, 
then working in Geneva. Elsewhere Rilke wrote of him, 
"How I love him, how I admire him," and expressed the 
desire to work with him "as secretary or somehow." 

146] p. 226 la meme plenitude . . . : the same fullness of life, the 
same intensity, the same justice even in the wrong. 

p. 227 ma vie . . . : my life, from eternity my own. 

147] p. 227 "My departure from Geneva had been set for the nth 
even before they had told me that all rooms were taken 
next day for the League of Nations delegations . . . 
Promptly on the i2th I moved into my new life." (To 
Anton Kippenberg, November 17, 1920.) 

Schloss Berg: on the Irchel, an old, vine-covered house in 
a rather neglected-looking park, "for centuries the country 
seat of the Eschers vom Luchs, whose coat-of-arms still 
occurs all over." Rilke lived here as the guest of Colonel 
Ziegler and his wife, of Thun. 

p. 228 done, retraite absolue: so, utter seclusion. 
[149] p. 230 piece d'eau: pool or pond. 

p. 232 original home of the family: see [211] and note. 

[150] p. 233 your letter: In his letter (of October 5, 1920), Major- 
General Sedlakowitz recalls himself to Rilke's memory as 
the German-language teacher in the military school at 
St. Polten (which Rilke entered at the age of ten; see [94] ); 
admits to too much red ink and irony in the marking of 
Rilke's compositions, but declares that he had sympathy 
for the bookworm as well as for the bad gymnast; says 
that he became aware through a lecture of Ellen Key's of 
the rising lyric poet Rilke, that he has enjoyed many of 
his poems and wishes in spirit to offer his hand and to 
express his gratitude at having been privileged to encounter 
the "noble poet" in his "golden youth". 

p. 236 letter of 1892: (December 30), a good example of what 
Rilke had to outgrow: "By the way, Friend Poetry is not 
altogether idle the strings of my lyre are not rusting, my 
busy hand awakes in them the reconciling harmony of beau- 

tiful sound and it rings purer than ever. (Nebstbei ruht 
Freundin Poesie nicht ganz aus, die Saiten meiner Leier 
rosten nicht, die tatige Hand erweckt in ihnen des Wohl- 
lautes versohnende Harmonic, und sie erklincrt eelauterte 

[151] p. 237 This letter, first published in the "Inselschiff" (12 Jg., H. 
i, Christmas 1930, 1-2) is the only letter to his mother, who 
survived him, in the collected Brief e. From Rilke's own 
descriptions of her nature, in which the unreal and the 
superficial were strangely combined with fanatical religious 
piety, the possibility of any genuine filial feeling on his part 
seems to have been precluded. (See Letters: 1892-1910, [2] 
and the striking passage in [61].) 

Rilke's last Christmas letter to his mother (1925, published 
in the Inselschiff, Christmas 1936) again recalls "our six- 
o'clock hour", when he always thinks "the bells must still 
be audible that Papa knew how to ring at the most exciting 
moment in so festively heralding a manner. I believe that 
all the joys of my life have had this voice, just as all of 
them, at whatever time of year they may have come to me, 
reminded me of Christmas: so much has that fulfillment, 
that series of fulfillments, which once upon a time, breath- 
less, my heart pounding up into my throat, I found there 
under the radiant Christmas tree remained a criterion for 
all the bestowals, later, of life! ... If later on my exist- 
ence, under the dreadful pressure of the Military School, 
in a sense overflowed into my own, often so weak and 
bewildered hands at that time, at the time of those Christ- 
mases, I did not yet hold it, but gave it to you to hold 
sometimes, to you and Papa, and it certainly became de- 
cisive for me that you were able and determined to lift it up 
then under the protection and the splendor of this festival 
as high as possible into the jubilance, into that jubilance 
which has given me the angels, the consciousness of whom, 
far indeed from having been lost to me, has grown with 
me at every stage of my life. . . ." 

[152] p. 239 Professor Carl Burckhardt: Rilke's good friend, who was 
later to become League of Nations Commissioner for the 
Free City of Danzig and universally respected for his efforts 
to preserve the peace during the fateful events of the late 
summer of 1939. 

p. 240 the forty drawings: done in secret by the little son of 
Madame Baladine-Klossowska (see [161] and note) as 
a sort of diary, a year after his first great sorrow, the loss 

of his cat were published in Mitsou: Quarante images par 
Ealtusz (Preface de Rainer Maria Rilke, Rotapfel-Verlag, 
Erlenbach-Zurich, 1921). 

p. 241 "Prince": the Burckhardts' shepherd dog at Schonenberg. 

HofmannsthaFs Beethoven lecture: given on the occasion 
of Beethoven's i5oth anniversary, before the Hottingen 
Reading Circle in Zurich, December 10, 1920 (published 
only in the Neue Zuricher Zeitung, December 19, 1920, 
No. 2099, p. 5), was based on the Rede auf Beethoven in 
Vol. Ill, Pt. 3, of his Reden und Aufsatze. 

[153] p. 241 Inga Junghanns: see note to [127]. Rilke's Briefe an R. JR. 
Junghanns und Rudotf Zimmerman have recently been 
published in a limited edition by the Vereinigung Oltner 
Bucherfreunde (1945, 61 pp.)- 

[154] p. 242 Seckendorff: Gotz von Seckendorff, the young painter, 
was killed in the war in August 1914. In Berlin, in October 
1917, Rilke had attended a "Herrenabend" at the official 
residence of Herr von Winterfeldt, Landesdirektor of the 
Province of Brandenburg, and had seen a lithograph by 
Seckendorff, an Awakening of Lazarus which seemed to 
him very close in feeling to his own "Christi Hollenfahrt" 
("Christ's Journey to Hell") of 1913 (see [100] and note). 
Von der Marwitz notes in his war diary that he is con- 
cerned at not hearing anything from Seckendorff: "Were 
he not to come back, our whole hope would be destroyed." 

[155] p. 243 Flaach: Salis notes that, some weeks later, in one of his 
journal-letters from Etoy to Frau Nanny Wunderly- 
Volkart, Rilke amused himself with the idea perhaps in- 
spired by the opening of a correspondence on religious 
questions by the vicar of Berg of what it would be like 
if he, Rilke, were to become "the vicar of Flaach"! 

[157] p. 246 strong leaning toward expression in painting: A number 
of drawings by the very youthful Rene have been preserved 
in the Rilke Archive. Their subjects recall the passage in 
the Notebooks just before the child's discovery of the 
mysterious hand under the table, for they are of knights 
and steeds preferably in the midst of battle "because then 
one only had to make the smoke enveloping everything." 
He seems also to have had a knack for caricature. See 
also [212]. 

[158] p. 249 Neuburg: the monastery of Neuburg on the Kammel. 

[160] p. 250 Baron von Ungern-Sternberg: German translator of the 
Stances of Jean Moreas (1856-1910), the French symbolist 


poet, leader of the ecole romane. In this letter Rilke goes 
on to discuss some of the verses Ungern had sent him and 
encloses his own translation (G.W. VI, 351) of No. VI 
from Book III, which Ungern included in his publication 
(Wir-Verlag, Berlin, 1922, 300 copies), dedicated to Rilke. 

About the middle of May Rilke was obliged to leave, in 
part, apparently, because of some personal crisis. Zurich 
friends drove him to Etoy near Morges on the Lake of 
Geneva, and here he spent a sort of holiday of several 
quite happy weeks, in the old house part of a thirteenth- 
century Augustinian priory of a Mademoiselle du Mont, 
who lived there "alone with a friend, looks after pigeons 
and bees and discreetly takes in a few pensionnaires". He 
read many modern French works at this time, among them 
A la recherche du letups perdu (see [56] and note, and 
[193]), and from now on, in French Switzerland, the lan- 
guage of his diary notes becomes a mixture of French and 

[161] p. 252 This old manoir: In the window of a coiffeur near the 
hotel, Rilke had happened on a photograph of the little 
castle of Muzot, beneath which stood the words "a vendre 
ou a louer" (for sale or rent). 

presence of my friend: Mme. Klossowska. While in Ge- 
neva (see [144]) she and Rilke had hit upon the plan of 
doing a group of "window"-poems for which she was to 
provide the illustrations. Rilke had conceived the idea of 
the window as a symbol, thinking of its forms, its signifi- 
cance, characteristically developing it as he had the foun- 
tain, the rose, the mirror. The book appeared some years 
later as Lcs Fenetres (Librairie de France, Paris, 1927, since 
included in Poemcs jrcmgais and Gesammelte Gedichte, 
but in neither G.W. nor A.W.). 

little rustic church: the white chapel of Saint Anne, situated 
a little above Muzot. 

magnificent old poplar: In a letter to Frau Nanny Wun- 
derly-Volkart (quoted in Salis, p. 77) Rilke described this 
poplar as standing at the edge of the road in front of 
Muzot "like a landmark again and an exclamation mark, 
as if it said, confirmed: see, this is it!" (Cf. [213]). 

p. 253 Battle of Marignan: in which Francis 1 (1515) defeated an 
army of Swiss mercenaries in the pay of Duke Maximilian 
Sforza of Milan, thereby conquering that city. 


p. 254 tres legerement habillee: very lightly clad. 

a big swastika: it must be remembered that since prehistoric 
times the swastika has been used by mankind in many parts 
of the world as a religious symbol and a token of good luck 
and benediction. 

[162] p. 255 This letter (included in the Briefe aus Muzot in the Ger- 
man translation of Kilian Kerst) was first published in the 
Nouvelle revue frangaise (Vol. 14, no. 161, Feb. i, 1927), 
where it is followed by two verses composed for the recipi- 
ent, "Saturday, while I was walking in the admirable allee 
of the Chateau of Hollingen". 

[164] p. 259 Countess Nora Purtscher-Wydenbruck: niece of Princess 
Marie, wife of the Austrian painter Aloys Purtscher, an 
author in her own right, co-translator of S.O.G. 

[165] p. 261 Carl Sieber: Rilke's future son-in-law, co-editor with his 
wife Ruth (and later Ernst Zinn) of the letters, custodian, 
until his recent death, of the Rilke Archive in Weimar, 
author of Rene Rilke (Leipzig, 1932). 

p. 262 Vaterchen: diminutive for "father". 

p. 263 Bredenau: Clara Rilke's house in Fischerhude. 

On November 25, Rilke wrote his publisher asking him to 
send Ruth in his name whatever sum could be spared to 
meet the demands of her approaching marriage. 

[167] p. 267 Un apaisement, etc.: a lull, a new calm greater than ever 
the happy moment of renewal, the dawn of a pure and 
universal beginning. 

[169] p. 272 The book in question is Heygrodt's Die Lyrik Rainer 
Maria Rilkes: Versuch einer Entwicklungsgeschichte (J. 
Bielefelds Verlag, Freiburg, 1921). 

Dr. Hunich: see note to [134]. 

p. 273 Cezanne: Rilke never did write the proposed study which 
was so much in his mind. See Letters: 1892-1910, [179] 
through [187]. 

p. 274 my so-called "early period": again and again Rilke dis- 
couraged attempts to drag forth his youthful writings (Cf. 
[210] and [212]). Included in G.W., however, are both 
First and Early poems, which he himself planned with An- 
ton Kippenberg "even to details of content and typog- 
raphy", and which in his mind were the only poems of his 

youth worthy of survival. See [9] and note in Letters: 

[170] p. 276 the rind of a condition: Rilke's use here of the simile of the 
fruit recalls Sonnets XIII-XV in Part I of the Sonnets to 
Orpheus, as that in [169] recalls "Death of the Poet" ("Der 
Tod des Dichters", Neue Gedichte, I), while the "berry for 
berry" of the carillon in [166] brings to mind the last verse 
of "Quai du Rosaire Bruges" (Neue Gedichte, I). 

[171] p. 278 This letter, undated, is placed by the German editors in 
December 1921. Since it concerns a detail of the Tenth 
.Elegy, which, from Rilke's own evidence, was set down in 
a burst of inspiration in February 1922 (see [181]), 
either the editors have been in error or which is perhaps 
more likely! the letter casts an illuminating sidelight on 
the creative processes that preceded the actual writing 
down of the elegy. The point of the letter, furthermore, is 
indicative of the accuracy of Rilke's descriptions of natural 

the poem passage: This passage (G.W. Ill, 308; A.W. I, 
264) is most significant for the close of the Elegies: 

Aber erweckten sie uns, die unendlich Toten, ein Gleichnis, 
siehe, sie zeigten vielleicht auf die Katzchen der leeren 
Hasel, die hangenden, oder 

meinten den Regen, der fallt auf dunkles Erdreich im Friih- 

Yet more they, the endlessly dead, to waken for us a likeness, 
see, they would point perhaps to the catkins of empty 
hazels, hanging, or else 
think of the rain that falls on dark earth in the early spring. 

[172] p. 279 I was offered a dog: See [25] and note, [152] and especially 
Fine Begegnung (G.W. IV, 233; A.W. II, 251). 

the poetry of Paul Valery: Rilke had made the acquaintance 
of the French poet's work only in the spring of 1921, but 
it had an important and lasting effect upon him. "I was 
alone," he said later, "I was waiting, my whole work was 
waiting. One day I read Valery; I knew that my waiting 
was at an end." (Quoted in Satis, 93, from Monique Saint- 
Holier, A Rilke pour Noel, Bern, 1927.) 

"Le Cimetiere marin": appears as "Der Friedhof am Meer" 
in Rilke's translations of poems by Valery (dedicated to 
Herr Werner Reinhart "by a grateful guest") in G.W. VI, 
288. Rilke also translated (Insel-Verlag, 1927) Valery's 


Socratic dialogue, Eupalinos, ou Yarchitecte. Pricide de 
FAme et la danse. 

p. 280 Schmargendorf: Rilke had lived at Schmargendorf, near 
Berlin, from 1892 to 1900, and he comments at the opening 
of this letter that his present study and small bedroom some- 
how "in their layout, in their proportions, in something 
I can't quite describe, especially toward evening" remind 
him of his rooms of those days in the Villa Waldf rieden. 

Mallarm6: Stephane Mallarme (1842-1898) earned a small 
income as professor of English in a French college. 

[173] p. 281 Spitteler: Carl Spitteler (1845-1924), the Swiss poet- 
philosopher, worked as schoolteacher and editor until he 
settled down as an independent writer in 1892. 

[174] p. 282 sonnets of Michelangelo: see [90] and note. 

p. 283 Die Blinde: a poem in dramatic dialogue, written in 
Schmargendorf, November 25, 1900 (Book of Pictures II, 
G.W. II, 153-158; A.W. 1, 134-138). 

[175] p. 283 those notes: Frau Knoop's account of the last illness of 
her daughter Vera, to whose memory Sonnets to Orpheus 
are dedicated. Though he had scarcely known the girl, 
her death two years before had made a profound impression 
on Rilke, and he had asked Frau Knoop to send him some 
little object she had cherished. Writing to Frau Wunderly- 
Volkart early in January 1922, Rilke said that this docu- 
ment had been as moving to him as "Montaigne's impres- 
sions at the bedside of his grievously and distortedly dying 
friend" (quoted in Sails, p. 94). 

[178] p. 287 Lotti von Wedel: Frau von Wedel (born von Gwinner) 
gives an account of her meeting with Rilke at the Karl 
von der Heydts' in Berlin in 1917 and her recommendation 
to him of Soglio and the Pension Willy (Neue Schiveizer 
Rundschau, Zurich, 1938, N.F., Jg. VI, 495-499). 

p. 288 Torre de las Danas: probably Torre de las Damas, one of 
the fortified towers around the Alhambra in Granada. 

Schack versions: a German translation of Omar Khayyam, 
Strophen des Omar Chijam (1878) translated by Adolf 
Friedrich Count von Schack (1815-1894). 

that magnificent queen: the bust of Nefertiti in the Berlin 
museum, of which Frau von Wedel had sent photographs. 

_ _ 437 

[179] P- 289 a few days of spontaneous emotion: the first series of 
Sonnets to Orpheus was written between the second and 
fifth of February. 

the XXIVth sonnet: XXV of Part I in the final version, 
"But you now, you whom I knew," is still the next-to-last, 
a further sonnet having been inserted as XXIII. In the 
second series, which came later, the next-to-last sonnet also 
specifically evokes Vera. 

the XXIst: "O the new, Friends, is not this" was later in- 
cluded in S.G., 97. On February 9, Rilke wrote Frau Knoop 
asking her to paste over this one a new sonnet, the "Child's 
Spring-Song", XXI in the completed cycle, as the original 
poem stood "like a blemish on his conscience". 

(the subtitle): in the published Sonnets, the subtitle reads, 
"Written as a memorial for Vera Ouckama Knoop". 

[180] p. 290 On the afternoon of February 9, Rilke telegraphed Frau 
Wunderly-Volkart: "Seven Elegies completely finished 
the most important at any rate joy and miracle." The 
eighth and ninth took shape in his mind on the way back 
from the telegraph office. Late that same night he wrote 
Anton Kippenberg a letter quite similar to this one, but 
expressing his overwhelming gratitude to his publisher for 
having waited so patiently for ten long years. 

one . . . dedicated to Kassner: the eighth. 
[181] p. 291 the horse: in Sonnet XX of the first series. 
p. 292 Lata: grandmother 

l: (proshchai) goodby. 

[182] p. 293 the "Saltimbanques": the elegy inspired by Picasso's paint- 
ing, the "Acrobats" (see [78] and note). 

the piece that has hitherto stood there: presumably the 
poem on pp. 68-70 of S.G. 

"Fragmentary Pieces": this plan was not to be realized. 
After Rilke's death, the material intended for this volume 
was included in S.G., and in part in G.W. Ill ("Letzte Ge- 
dichte und Fragmentarisches") and A.W. I (poems of 

[183] p. 295 a sort de la creation: that comes out of creation. 

p. 295 Louis de Courten: the de Courtens had been a prominent 
family in the region. The Hotel Bellevue in Sierre was orig- 
inally a palace built by Count Jean Franois de Courten. 

p. 300 tant bien que mal: as best I could. 

[187] p. 305 Beer-Hofmann: Richard Beer-Hofmann (1866-1945), au- 
thor of the uncompleted dramatic trilogy, "Jaakobs 

"Lullaby for Miriam": "Schlaflied fur Mirjam", Pan IV, 
p. 88. This beautiful poem is included in the small volume, 
Verse, published in New York in 1941 (Bermann-Fischer 

six months in Sweden: from June to December 1904. 
188] p. 307 The magnificent queen: see [178] and note. 

p. 308 Jung-Stilling: (d. 1817), a friend of Goethe's youth, first 
a doctor, later a political economist, part of whose auto- 
biography, Heinrich Stillings Jugend, was published in 


189] p. 309 Dory von der Miihll: sister of Carl Burckhardt; see note 
to [152]. 

the reception that Princess Taxis gave the Elegies: Accord- 
ing to the Princess (Erinnerungen, 93-95), Rilke, at his 
"Stehpult" (standing desk) in Muzot, read the Elegies 
aloud, the first seven in the morning, the last three in the 
afternoon; next day, in her room at the hotel in Sierre, 
he read her "the twenty-seven [sic!] sonnets", after 
which Rilke bent down to kiss her hand, and she kissed 
him on the forehead, "as a mother her son, a wonderful 

In July the Kippenbergs, and later Frau Baladine-Klossow- 
ska, were visitors at Muzot. Frau Kippenberg vividly de- 
scribes Rilke's reading of the Elegies (Rainer Maria Rilke y 
Bin Beitrag, Insel- Verlag, 1935, PP- 186-187). 

190] p. 309 The latter part of August and early September, Rilke spent 
with Madame Klossowska and her family at Beatenberg 
above the Thurnersee. 

192] p. 3 1 2 Witold von Hulewicz: Von Hulewicz, Rilke's Polish trans- 
lator, was preparing an edition of the Rodin (G.W. IV, 
299-421) to be published in 1923, and had sent the manu- 
script to Rilke. 


[193] p 313 Prince Hohenlohe: brother of Princess Marie. 
Proust: see [56] and note. 

[194] p. 314 Countess Margot Sizzo: This letter is not included in the 
Brief e and has presumably not been hitherto published. 

Marie Leneru: (1875-1918), a French writer of psycho- 
logical dramas. At the age of 1 1 she began to keep a diary, 
published in 1922 as Journal de Marie L. 

[195] p. 318 Paul Valcry: Rilke was at the time translating Valery's 
volume of poems, Charmes. 

p. 319 "Vous etiez Tun des objets etc.": "You were one of the 
principal objects of my trip." 

[196] p. 321 This letter, written in French, and not included in the 
Brief e, was published in an Alsatian periodical, Le Point, 
XVI, Sept. 1938, 3^ annee, 6 rue Rapp, Colmar. 

"Form-Dichter": literally, "Form-Poet". 

[198] p. 326 your gift: von Schlozer had sent Rilke a copy of his book, 
Dorothea von Schlozer (Dorothea von Rodde), der Phi- 
losophie Doktor, ein Deutsches Frauenleben um die Jahr- 
hunderfwende 7770 bis 1825, 1923. 

[200] p. 327 Schuler: see [76] and note. 

p. 329 physical indispositions: After the spring and early sum- 
mer, with frequent visitors at Muzot and several trips to 
various parts of Switzerland, Rilke's physical condition, 
growing progressively worse, forced him reluctantly to 
seek medical help, and he spent a few weeks of the late 
summer in a sanitarium on the Vierwaldstattersee. There 
he had to submit to massage treatment, "and thus occurs 
the grotesque case of an old man meditatively promenading 
over my body on his hands every morning. A circus num- 
ber." (to Frau Wunderly-Volkart, August 23, 1923, quoted 
in Salts, 126-127). He returned to Muzot in November. 

[201] p. 329 Paula Becker: Paula Modersohn-Becker (1876-1907), the 
painter. See Letters: 1892-1910, particularly [17] and note 
and [202]. After reading an earlier edition of her journals, 
Rilke wrote that though her death had for years made him 
feel that death outweighed life, they had been to him a 
proof that "she, since she was so vibrantly devoted to the 
future, foresaw more than earthly joy in her open heart." 
(To Dr. Kurt Becker, Easter Monday, 1913.) 

,[203] p. 331 shortly after Christmas again: Rilke went this time to the 
sanitarium in Valmont, near Montreux, three hours from 
Muzot, where he remained for three weeks under the 
care of Dr. Haemmerli, who was to look after him until 
his death. On January 21, he wrote Frau Wunderly- 
Volkart what he called a "confession sans retenue" showing 
a full awareness of the gravity of his condition: "I was as 
if raised up to another plane of life, perhaps on that where 
the incurables are". 

p. 332 habitual deep armchair: Rilke had been a frequent guest 
at the Knoop house in Munich during the war years. 

204] p. 333 Alfred Schaer: Privatdozent (unsalaried lecturer) at the 
University of Zurich. 

Bang: Hermann Joachim Bang (1858-1912), the Danish 
impressionist writer, author of The White House (1898), 
The Gray House (1901). 

Liliencron: Detlev von Liliencron ( 1844-1909), the poet. 

Jacob Wassermann: (1873-1934) author of The World's 
Illusion (Christian Wahnschaffe) and The Maurizius Case 
(Der Fall Maurizius), novels which have had some circu- 
lation in this country. He is taken to be the prototype for 
Thalmann in Eivald Tragy, a "novelle" dating from around 
1899 but not published in Rilke's lifetime, recently brought 
out (Johannespresse, New York, 1944) as the first in a 
series of three volumes (Rainer Maria Rilke i?n Jahre 1896) 
edited by Dr. Richard von Mises. 

Lermontov: Mikhail Yurevich Lermontov (1814-1841), 
Russian poet and novelist. 

Nekrassov: Nikolai Alexeievich Nekrassov (1821-1877), 
Russian poet. 

Fet: Afanasi Afanasievich Fet (1820-1892), Russian poet. 

p. 334 ropemaker in Rome, potter in the Nile village: Cf. Ninth 
Elegy, 11. 57-58 (G.IV. Ill, 300; A.W. I, 259; D.E., 77): 

Er wird staunender stehn; wie du standest 
bei dcm Seiler in Rom, oder beim Topfer am Nil. 

He'll stand more astonished; as you did 
beside the roper in Rome or the potter in Egypt. 

"Les Baux": see [205] in Letters: 1892-1910. 

205] p. 336 volume of French poems: presumably Vergers, written in 

p. 336 Valery's visit: Valery writes of this visit: "My imagination 
could not help but hear inside you the endless monologue 
of a quite isolated consciousness that nothing distracts 
from itself and from the feeling of being unique. I could 
not conceive of so separate an existence, of eternal win- 
ters in such an abuse of intimacy with silence, so much 
freedom offered to your dreams, to the essential and too- 
concentrated spirits that are in books, to the inconstant 
genii of writing, to the powers of memory. Dear Rilke, you 
seemed to me enclosed in pure time and I feared for you 
the transparency of an all too uniform life that through 
the round of ever-like days allowed one clearly to see 
death." (in Reconnaissance a Rilke, Cahiers du Mois 23/24, 
Paris, 1926.) 

[206] p. 337 The Kippenbergs had again been Rilke's guests at Muzot 
a month before. He greatly needed people now and had a 
steady stream of visitors. "No spring at Muzot", he wrote 
to Dory von der Muhll, "was ever so blessed with them as 
this late, hesitant one . . ." 

p. 338 a simple notebook: "Three Poems", included in Brief e VI 
(an seinen Verleger). 

[207] p. 339 Clara Rilke had, with her brother, made a visit to Rilke. 
They had not seen each other for years, and this was to 
be their last meeting. 

[208] p. 340 Ragaz: the health resort, where Rilke had spent several 

[209] p. 341 Again the first part of the summer had been spent in visits 
and outings with friends in various parts of Switzerland. 

experiments in the Taxis circle: see note to [34]. 

p. 344 who are privy to the whole: cf. 8th Elegy, (G.W. Ill, 293; 
A.W. I, 254; Duino Elegies, p. 67): 

das freie Tier 

hat seinen Untergang stets hinter sich 
und vor sich Gott, und wenn es geht, so gehts 
in Ewigkeit, so wie die Brunnen gehen. 

the free animal 

has its decease perpetually behind it 
and God in front, and when it moves, it moves 
in eternity, like running springs. 

[210] p. 345 Professor Pongs has made several important contributions 
to the field of Rilke criticism, among them "Rainer Maria 


Rilkes Umschlag und das Erlebnis der Frontgeneration," 
Dichtung und Volkstum, 1936; "Rainer Maria Rilke, ein 
Vortrag", Euphorion, 1931. 

In his foreword to the three letters from which this 
letter and [212] are taken (first published in "Drei un- 
veroffentlichte Briefe Rilkes," Dicbtung und Volkstum, 
Stuttgart, 1936, no. i, Sonderheft, 37) Dr. Pongs says the 
correspondence had opened with his request that Rilke 
read to his students, adding that he was young and shy at 
the time and did not ask such probing questions as he 
might have. 

p. 346 a further year: at Linz; see note to [222], 

private instruction: financed by Rilke's uncle, Jaroslav 

my earliest productivity: see [9] and note in Letters: 1892- 

p. 347 Alfred Klaar: (1848-1927), writer and teacher. 
Friedrich Adler: (1857- ) t poet. 
Hugo Salus: (1866-1929), doctor and poet. 

Orlik: Emil Orlik (1870- ), to whom Rilke dedicated the 
poem "Peacockfeather" (G.W. I, 172. See [25] in Letters: 

August Sauer: (1855-1926), professor of literature at the 
University of Prague. 

Detlev von Liliencron: see [204] and note. 

Ren Maria: Rilke had not yet changed his name to Rainer 

p. 348 Jacobsen: see [92] and note. 

Jacob Wassermann: see [204] and note. 
Munich: Rilke went there to study in 1896. 

p. 349 Pages for Art: Blatter fur die Kunst, a periodical founded 
by George and published from 1892 to 1919, one of the 
most significant literary organs of the time. 

Year of the Soul: a volume of poems published in 1897. 

Lepsius Circle: Reinhold Lepsius (1857-1922) and his 
wife, Sabine (1864- ), both portrait painters, had eve- 
nings in their Berlin home at which their friend George 
read his poems. In her book, Stefan George, Geschichte 

einer Freundschaft (Berlin, 1935), Frau Lepsius mentions 
Rilke's presence at one of these (in November 1897) with 
Lou Andreas-Salom. 

P* 349 Jacobowski: Ludwig Jacobowski (1868-1900), poet, nov- 
elist, dramatist and editor of several literary periodicals. 

Reinhold Maurice von Stern: listed elsewhere as Maurice 
Reinhold von Stern (1860- ), a poet with a social and 
political slant. 

Wilhelm von Scholz: (1874- ) dramatist. Almost cer- 
tainly he was the prototype of Wilhelm von Kranz in 
Eivald Tragy (see note to [204] ). 

E. von Bodmann: or Bodman (1874- ), a poet and a 
Munich friend. See [24] in Letters: 1892-1910. 

a person close to me: Lou Andreas-Salome, who was Rus- 
sian by birth. 

the "Cornet": see [70], [73] and notes; also [212]. 

"Angel Songs": G.W. I, pp. 273-281; "Maidens' Songs"r 
G.W. I, pp. 305-323. 

Tuscany, etc.: Rilke was there in 1898. 

p. 350 "I would not like to die in spring": "Ich mochte nicht iiw 
Friihling sterben", from Life and Songs, 1894, 67. Not in. 

[211] p. 351 the history of our family: see Carl Sieber's Rene Rilke- 
(Insel-Verlag, Leipzig, 1932) which is the chief source o 
information; also [44] and note in Letters: 1892-1910. 

[212] p. 353 Klimt: presumably Gustav Klimt (1862-1918), a promi- 
nent Austrian commercial artist. 

Ernst Mach: (1838-1916), physicist and philosopher, pro- 
fessor of physics at Prague in Rilke's day. 

Wild Chicory: a literary pamphlet (3 numbers were 
printed) containing pieces by Rilke and other young art- 
ists which was not sold but distributed among the poor. 
See [4] and note in Letters: 1892-1910. 

Hoar Frost, Without Present: published in Aus der Friih- 
zeit Rainer Maria Rilke s. Verse. Prosa. Drama (1894- 
1899), Leipzig, 1921. 

p. 354 Along Life's Way, Two Tales of Prague, The Last: stories 
published in Erzahlungen und Skizzen aus der Fruhzeit, 
Leipzig, 1928. 


p. 354 Everyday Life: a drama in two acts, Munich 1902. 

About God (Stones of God): G.W. IV, pp. 39-178. 

Uhde: Fritz von Uhde (1848-1911), painted scenes from 
the life of Christ. 

"White Princess": see note to [31]. 
p. 355 Requiem: G.W. II, 321-345. 

Elizabeth Browning translations: G.W. VI, 5-50; A.W. II, 
352-354 (contains only Nos. 6, 35, 39, 22). 

Simmel: Georg Simmel (1858-1918), philosopher and so- 

Paula Modersohn: see [201] and note. 

Van Gogh: see Letters: 1892-1910, especially [172] and 

p. 356 Cottet: Charles Cottet (1863-1925), landscape painter, pu- 
pil of Puvis de Chavannes. 

Lucien Simon: (1854- ), painter of Breton scenes. 
Zuloaga: see note to [34]. 
p. 357 "What is Art?": published in 1896. 

p. 359 This telegram: Monsieur Rodin insists, so that you can 
talk. (Cf. [86] in Letters: 1892-1910.) 

p. 361 imaginary voices of the dwarf or the beggar: Book of 
Pictures II, "The Song of the Beggar", "The Song of the 
Dwarf", G.W. II, 122, 130; T.P., 112, 126. 

p. 362 Mt. Athos: The mountain on the Macedonian peninsula of 
that name is largely populated by monastic communities 
noted for their valuable collections of documents and their 
treasures of Byzantine art. 

p. 363 the most beautiful and direct recognition: Pongs's little 
son had said on hearing the name, "Rainer Maria Rilke, 
that sounds like a poem." 

Qu'il le saurait "par coeur": that he should know it "by 

[2 1 3] p. 365 my second Ragaz visit: Rilke had hoped to return there in 
the fall. 


p. 366 "Quatrains Valaisans": Vergers suivis des Quatrains Valai- 
sans, 1926. 

I had a secretary: Marga Wertheimer, who later wrote 
Arbeitsstunden wit Rainer Maria Rilke (Zurich, 1940). 

"Eupalinos": see [172] and note, 
p. 367 beautiful old poplar: cf. [161] and note. 

[214] p. 367 Val-Mont (Valmont): Rilke had been at the sanitarium 
again from the end of November into early January. 

your brother: Carl Burckhardt. 

The last paragraph of this letter was written in French. 

Rilke was to remain in Paris for eight months. At intervals 
the thought of Muzot tempted him to return, but, in addi- 
tion to his old affection for Paris, he now, being no longer 
an unknown author in France, allowed the claim of many 
social engagements, perhaps in large part because of his 
deep awareness that the disease from which he was suffer- 
ing had incapacitated him for the rigors of solitude and 
creative work. When he finally left Paris in September, 
medical care had become imperative. After spending some 
time in Ragaz and consulting doctors in Meilen and 
Zurich, he returned to Muzot in October, where he im- 
mediately wrote out the will (see p. 449) which he sent to 
Nanny Wunderly-Volkart. He had meanwhile engaged 
a new housekeeper, the faithful Frieda Baumgartner having 
been obliged to leave. A selection from his letters to 
Mademoiselle Ida Walthert (published in the Swiss maga- 
zine Annabelle, Jg. 8, No. 94, Zurich, Christmas 1945) 
shows his meticulous thoughtfulness for the care of the 
little house and of visitors, as well as his dependence on 
and consideration for the person charged with looking 
after his needs. 

[216] p. 369 The accompanying letter has been lost. This quotation, 
evidently related to the fragment "An Experience" ("Er- 
lebnis": see [120] and note, also [40]) written in Spain in 
1913, presumably also belongs to that earlier period, though 
Rilke appears to have sent it to Lou only in 1925. 

a bird call was there . . . concordantly: Cf. S.O. II, 26, 
and "Die Spanische Trilogie" (S.G. 153; G.W. Ill, 446): 

44^ __ 

Da steht er nachstens auf und hat den Ruf 
des Vogels draussen schon in seinem Dasein 
und fiihlt sich kiihn, well er die ganzen Sterne 
in sein Gesicht nimmt, schwer . . . 

Then he stands up and already has the call 

of the bird outside in his being 

and feels bold because he takes 

all the stars into his vision, heavy . . . 

leaning in a similar posture: Cf. the same poem: 

Warum muss einer dastehn wie ein Hirt, 
so ausgesetzt dem Obermass von Einfluss, 
beteiligt so an diesem Raum voll Vorgang, 
dass er gelehnt an einen Baum der Landschaft 
sein Schicksal hatte, ohne mehr zu handeln. 

Why must one stand there like a shepherd, 
so exposed to the excess of influence, 
so talcing part in this space full of happening, 
that, leaning against a tree in the landscape, 
he had his destiny, without more doing . . . 

[217] p. 372 the French translation: Les Cahiers de Malte Laurids 
Brigge, (Emile-Paul, Paris, 1926), one of the many Rilke 
translations by Maurice Betz. 

confidence in this French version: In Rilke Vivant (Paris, 
1937) Betz speaks of having worked with Rilke on this 

[218] p. 372 This much-quoted letter has formed the basis of most 
recent Rilke criticism. It begins with Rilke's answers to 
a questionnaire from von Hulewicz and concludes with 
the pages here translated. 

p. 373 des tongues Etudes: of long study. 

The War interrupted this my greatest work altogether: 
The Fourth Elegy, however, nad been written in Munich 
in November 1915. 

p. 374 Nous butinons perdument . . . : We pilfer distractedly 
the honey of the visible to collect it in the big golden 
hive of the invisible. 

p. 375 "Land of Lamentation": see Tenth Elegy. 
[219] p. 376 Christine: Rilke's granddaughter. 

[220] p. 378 Rilke had turned fifty on December 4. Despite the tone of 
cordial appreciation in this letter, he was harassed rather 


than pleased by all the greetings and remembrances that 
poured in. He had asked Frau Wunderly-Volkart before- 
hand to discourage such things, and when letters and tele- 
grams had piled up notwithstanding, he wearily wrote, 
"Quelle corvee, quelle inutilite! (What a bore, what fu- 
tility! ) . . . Naturally, if one looks at it justly, there was 
something dear in it, but where is the love that does not 
make more trouble?" (Quoted in Salis, p. 179). For his own 
part, Rilke had commemorated his birthday by giving a 
thousand francs toward the restoration of the nearby 
Chapel of St. Anne. 

Bellevue: the hotel in Sierre; see note to [183]. 

rose-colored island: a play on the name of the publishing 
house, Insel (Island). 

[221] p. 379 Frau Berta Flamm had asked Rilke to send words of en- 
couragement to her son, wounded in the war. The son re- 
covered and later became a doctor. 

[222] p. 380 Following the publication of the first of Rilke's French 
poems in Commerce in 1924, German journalists launched 
a series of attacks charging him with betrayal of his native 
language and country. 

p. 382 "disapproving attitude of German literary circles": The 
influential George circle had never recognized Rilke and 
had refused to publish his poems in the famous Blatter fur 
die Kunst. (See [210] and note). 

p. 383 Linz: After the fiasco of the military school, Rilke had 
spent a no less disastrous winter (1891-1892) at the Linz 
Commercial School. 

[223] p. 383 Georg Reinhart: elder brother of Werner Reinhart, the 
owner of Muzot, and a member of the well-known import- 
ing house of Volkart Brothers in Winterthur. 

[224] p. 386 Toward the end of December, Rilke was forced to return 
to Valmont, remaining for five months. 

Leonid Pasternak: (1862-1945), painter and professor at 
the Moscow Art School, through whom Rilke had met 
Tolstoy on his first visit to Russia. 

Tartarshchina: the Tartar rule. 

p. 387 your son Boris: Boris Pasternak (1890- ). His autobio- 
graphical sketch, "Safe Conduct" (Boris Pasternak: The 
Collected Prose Works ', London, 1945), is inscribed, "To 

the Memory of Rainer Maria Rilke". Accent published his 
short story "The Death of Mayakovsky" in autumn 1946, 
and translations of two poems in spring 1947. 

[226] p. 389 This letter was first published in Die Literarische Welt, 
Berlin, Jg. 3, Nr. 22, June 3, 1927, p. 5. 

Heym: Georg Heym (1887-1912) was drowned skating. 
Trakl: Georg Trakl (1887-1914) committed suicide. 

[227] p. 390 Dieter Bassermann: author of the essay on Rilke's letters 
which introduces the new edition of the Brief e, also of an 
excellent study, "Engel und Orpheus", in Die Neue Rund- 
schan, April 1939. 

professional journal: the SchaUkiste. 

p. 391 "Primal Sound": ("Urgerausch", G.W. IV, 285 fL; A.W. 
IT, 274ff.) In this essay, written at Soglio in 1919, Rilke 
speculates upon what sort of music might be produced if 
the coronal suture of the human skull could be treated like 
the sound-track of a phonograph record. 

[228] p. 392 proposed texts: passages from these letters of Rilke's were 
printed in the June 1926 number of the SchaUkiste , p. 9, 
under the title "Eine Anregung". 

[229] p. 394 Rilke left Valmont the end of May, but was unable to live 
continuously at Muzot and at intervals stayed at the hotel 
in Sierre. The middle of July he went to Ragaz, bearing 
with him the final Valery translations, the "Fragments du 
Narcisse", which he was to read there to the Princess. 

[231] p. 395 His health was sufficiently good to enable him to make 
various visits in September to friends at Ouchy on Lake 
Geneva, where he saw Valery once more, and to Lau- 
sanne. But after his return to Muzot in October, his con- 
dition became so poor that when he scratched his finger 
cutting his favorite roses, the slight wound not only did 
not heal but became seriously infected and was exceedingly 
painful. This was the first symptom of the disease which 
was soon to be diagnosed as acute leukemia. Early in De- 
cember, he went once more to Valmont. On the eighth, 
in a laborious and uneven hand, he penciled to Frau 
Wunderly-Volkart (in French): 

". . . day and night, day and night: . . . Hell! one will 
have known it! ... 
"Thank you, that with all your being (I sense it) you are 


accompanying me into these anonymous regions. . . 
"The most serious, the longest way: is to abdicate: to be- 
come 'the sick person 7 . The sick dog is still dog, always. 
We, after a certain degree of insensate suffering, are we 
still ourselves? One must become the sick person, learn 
this absurd metier under the eye of the doctors. It is long! 
And I shall never be clever enough to 'turn it to account'; 
in this affair I am losing." ^Salis, p. 201.) 

[232] p. 395 Supcrvielle: Jules Supervielle, the French poet (born at 
Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1884), whose acquaintance Rilke 
had made during his last stay in Paris. 

In the days that still remained Rilke was closely attended 
by the doctors (particularly Dr. Haemmerli), his nurse 
and (until the final stages) by Frau Wunderly. Dr. Haem- 
merli has testified to the intense agony he underwent and 
to the fact that he refused any drugs that might deaden 
his awareness. The medical interpretations of his illness he 
did not want to hear, but the problem of dealing with a 
suffering body and of the interrelationship of the physical 
and spiritual were constantly in his thoughts. "We were 
such wonderfully good friends, my body and I, I don't 
know at all how it happened that we separated and became 
foreign to each other" (Salis, p. 204). He wrote letters to 
Lou, always hoping that she might give him the answer to 
the riddle. But of the firm courage he maintained to the 
end, the most moving testimony is in his words to Frau 
Wunderly, "Never forget, dear friend, life is a glory". 

Early in the morning of December 29 he died, and on 
January 2, 1927, in the presence of a handful of friends, he 
was buried, as he had wished, in the little graveyard by 
the old church at Rarogne (Raron). 


[Quoted in full from Salis, who gives it (pp. 174-175) with the 
permission of Frau Wunderly- Volkart and Dr. Werner Reinhart] 

A few personal instructions in the event of an ill- 
ness that more or less deprives me of my reason. 

(Muzot, October 1925) 

i. Should I fall into a serious illness that in the end also destroys my 
mind, I beg, even implore my friends to keep from me any priestly as- 


sistance that might be pressed upon me. Bad enough that in the physical 
afflictions of my nature I have had to accede to the mediator and nego- 
tiator in the doctor; to the movement of my soul, toward the open, any 
spiritual intermediary would be offensive and repugnant. 

2. Should I happen to die at Muzot or anywhere in Switzerland, I wish 
to be interred neither in Sierre nor yet in Miege. (It is this last perhaps 
that, after the unintelligible pronouncement of the unknown old lady, we 
might not do, in order not to arouse anew the restless night wandering 
of poor Isabelle de Chevron.) 

3. Rather I should prefer to be buried in the graveyard situated high up 
beside the old church at Rarogne. Its enclosure is one of the first places 
from which I received the wind and light of this countryside, together 
with all the promises it was later to help me, with and in Muzot, to realize. 

4. Now I abhor the geometrical arts of the present-day stonemasons; 
it will perhaps be possible to acquire an old stone (of the Empire for in- 
stance) (as happened in the case of my father's grave in Vienna). When 
the earlier inscriptions are planed off, let it bear: 

the coat of arms 

(in the older form used by my great-grandfather that is repeated in 
the silver seal recently brought with me from Paris) 
the name 
and, at a little distance, the verse lines: 

Rose, oh pure contradiction, desire 
to be nobody's sleep beneath so many 

5. Of the furniture and objects at Muzot, I regard nothing as my actual 
personal possession; except for what is there in the way of family pictures: 
which as such go to my daughter Frau Ruth Sieber, Alt-Jocketa Farm near 
Jocketa (in Saxony). Of all the rest, in so far as it does not belong as a 
matter of course to the house, Frau Nanny Wunderly-Volkart in the 
Unteren Miihle at Meilen, in agreement with her cousin, Herr Werner 
Reinhart, Rychenberg-Winterthur, my generous friend and the owner of 
Muzot, would have the disposal. 

6. Since, from certain years on, I was accustomed occasionally to direct 
a part of the creativity of my nature into letters, nothing stands in the way 
of the publication of my correspondence that may have been preserved 
in the hands of the addressees (should the Insel-Verlag propose something 
of the sort). 

7. Of my pictures I regard none as essentially valid save those evanescent 
ones still surviving, in feeling and memory, with a few friends. 

Chateau de Muzot RAINER MARIA RILKE 

on the evening of October 27, 1925. 


(The numbers refer to the Letters) 

Amann-Volkart, Frau, 171 

Amie, Une, 196 

Andreas-Salome, Lou, 16, 17, 20, 22, 24, 

26, 39, 40, 45, 48, 59, 60, 64, 105, 172, 

181, 182, 195, 205, 216 
Aretin, Erwein Baron von, 158, 159 
Attems, Countess Viktoria, 157 

Bassermann, Dieter, 227, 228 
Baumgarten, Fraulein A., 85 
Blumenthal- Weiss, Use, 170, 176, 187 
Boddien, Hedwig von, 56 
Bodlander, Rudolf, 184, 186 
Braun, Captain Otto, 211 
Bunsen, Marie von, 1 10 
Burckhardt, Carl, 152 
Burckhardt-Schatzmann, Helene, 143 
Burschell, Dr., 1 1 3 
Bruckmann, Elsa, 14, 8 1 

Cassirer, Eva, 47, 53 

Delp, Ellen, 46, 86, 87, 174 
Dietrichstein, Countess Aline, 92, 97, 
in, 127 

E. de W., 185 
E. M., 190 

Ehrenfels, Imma Baroness von, 93 
Escher, Nanny von, 202 

Picker, Ludwig von, 74 
Fischer-Colbrie, Arthur, 222 
Flamm, Berta, 221 

Gebsattel, Emil Baron von, 19, 23 
Gneisenau, Countess Mary, 99 

Hethey, Margarete, 1 14 
Heydt, Karl von der, 69 
Heydt, Elisabeth von der, 69, 125 

Heygrodt, Robert Heinz, 169 
Heyl zu Herrnsheim, Baroness, 124 
Heymel, Alfred Walter von, 28, 67 
Hofmannsthal, Hugo von, 91 
Hohenlohe, Prince, 193 
Hulewicz, Witold von, 192, 217, 218 

J. H., a Worker, 163 
Jahr, Use, 191, 197 
Junghanns, Inga, 153 

Kanitz-Menar, Countess Lili, 3 
Kassner, Rudolf, 231 
Keller, Alwine von, 177 
Kippenberg, Anton, 34, 41, 71, 90, 94, 

96, 107, 126, 133, 134, 140, 206, 207, 

215, 220 
Knoop, Gertrud Ouckama, 131, 166, 

175, 179, 203 
Koenig, Hertha, 108 
Kolb, Annette, 21, 42 
Kutschera, Oswald von, 142 

L. H., 88 

Ledebur, Dorothea Baroness von, 116, 

Lettre, Emil, 119 

M., Countess, 123, 128, 132, 139, 146, 

149, 156, 167, 208 
Mewes, Anni, 117, 130 
Miinchhausen, Anna Baroness von, 62, 

Miinchhausen, Thankmar Baron von, 

52, 61, 65, 75, 78 

Marwitz, Bernhard von der, 104, 106 
Moos, Xaver von, 168, 173, 183, 199, 
Miihll, Dory von der, 138, 189, 214. 
Miihll, Hans von der, 145 

N. N., 15, 25, 27, 29, 32, 37 

45 2 

Nordeck zur Rabenau, Marietta 
Baroness von, 101 

North Austrian Government, Presi- 
dency of, 115 

Nostitz, Helene von, 13, 49, 54, 55, 68, 

Pasternak, Leonid, 224 

Pongs, Professor Hermann, 210, 212 

Purtscher-Wydcnbruck, Countess 

Nora, 164, 209 
Przygode, Dr. Wolf, 100 

R. S., 148 

Reinhart, Georg, 223, 225 

Rilke, Clara, i, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 70, 102, 103, 

112, 2OO, 2OI, 213, 219 

Rilke, Phia, 151 

Schaer, Alfred, 204 

Schalk,Lili, n 

Schenck zu Schweinsberg, Elisabeth 

Baroness, 118 

Schlozer, Leopold von, 137, 198 
Schmidt-Pauli, Elisabeth von, 129 
Schonburg, Prince, 135 
Scdlakowitz, Major General von, 150 
Sieber, Carl, 165 

Sizzo, Countess Margo, 194 
Solms-Laubach, Countess Manon zu, 


Sorge, Reinhard Johannes, 50, 58 
Stauffenberg, Countess, 120, 121, 122 
Stoecklin, Francisca, 155 
Supervielle, Jules, 232 

Taubmann, Elisabeth, 95, 98 

Thurn und Taxis, Prince Alexander 

von, 9, 66 
Thurn und Taxis-Hohenlohe, Princess 

Marie, 2, 10, 12, 30, 31, 33, 35, 36, 38, 

43, 44 5*. 57. 7^ 77 79i 83, *4> 89, 141, 
144, 147, 161, 180 

Ulbricht, Hans, 226 
Ullmann, Regina, 82 
Ungern-Sternberg, Baron von, 160 

Veder, Beppy, 229, 230 

Wedel, Lotti von, 178, 188 
Winterfeldt-Menkin, Joachim von, 

109, 154 
Wolff, Hanna, 72 

Young Girl, a, 162 


To Volume I, 1892-1910, and Volume II, 1910-1926 

acceptance, II 297 

actor, II 224, 393 

admiration, I 240, 279 II 229, 312, 323 

Adler, Friedrich, I 347 

affirmation, II 317, 372, 378-89 

affliction, II 103 

Africa, II 101 

Aksakov Chronicle, II 210 

Alcoforado, Marianna, I 227, 228, 273, 

332 II 47-49, 87; see also Portu- 
guese Nun 

Algiers, II 18, 20, 25, 35 
Al Hay at, I 282 
Allah, II 20 
almond tree, II 84 
alone, I 103, 149, 171, 202, 203, 239, 267, 

33611 211, 335 
Amalfi, I 117 
Amenophis IV, II 288 
America, II 374 
Americans, I 351 II 218, 374 
Amsterdam, I 67 
Anacapri, I 258, 260, 262, 265 
Andalusia, II 254 
Andreas, Prof., II 83, 292 
Andreas-Salome, Lou, I 34, 40, 186, 

187, 243-46 II 36, 122 
Andree (atlas), I 254 
angels, I 85, 107, 137, 347, 2451! 48, 

72, 97, 102, 136, 146, 257, 325, 373 ff.; 

and devils, II 49, 51; Chartres, I 198; 

singing, I 208 II 334; three last, I 


Angela of Foligno, II 52, 78, 87 
animals, I 103, 118, 122, 161, 166, 178, 

287 II 16, 121, 161, 344 
Anna Amalia, Duchess, II 28 
Ansbach, II 176 
antique moderation, II 55 
antiquity, I 90, 91, 122, 128 
Aphrodite, throne of, I 133, 135, 186 
Arab, II 277, 305 

Arabian Nights, I 270 II 18, 20, 288 
Arabic, II 22, 35, 83, 288 
Arco, I 159 

Arnim, Bettina von, I 331, 335 II 28, 

art, I 24, 27, 28, 126, 261, 347II 31, 41, 
45, 159, 161, 229-30, 298; and the 
church, II 112; and conscience, I 
318; evaluation of, II 247; as forget- 
ting or insight, II 155-56; Gorky on, 
I 278; and intellect, II 261; and life, 
I 84, 126, I59H 2 44-45 2 55-58 2 59- 
61, 269-70, 285, 295-98, 299-302, 302- 
304, 357 ff ., 360, 394; and Nature, II 
17, 41, 159, 391; Rodin on, I 82; 
poetic, I 63; plastic, I 270 II 242; 
Tolstoy on, II 357; transformation, 
not selection, I 347 

art, Italian Renaissance, I 28 

art, works of, I 95, 276, 279, 285, 340, 
355 II 156, 223, 241, 275, 358 

art-craft, I 63 II 360 

art critics, I 299 

art dealers, I 83, 299, 312, 314 

artist, I 28, 36* 261, 278, 285, 286, 316, 
33911 31, 36, 95, 158, 281, 285, 295- 
98; Chekhov, I 35; myself an, I 28; 
not insurrectionist, I 278; insights, I 
289, 316; situation of, I 339; suffer- 
ing, I 76 

artistic achievement, activity, etc., I 
123, 269, 274, 318, 347H 168, 280, 
283, 340; appraised, II 229, 241, 247 

artistic point of view, II in 

artistic observation, I 314 

arts, the, II 132, 246, 334 

Assisi, I 117 

Atlas Mountains, II 20, 198, 294 

Auerbach, II 28 

Austria, II 130 

Austrian subject, being an, II 212, 215 

autumn, I 171, 176, 183, 229, 230, 310 
II 140 

Avignon, I 348 II 348, 371 

Bach, I 171 
Baedeker, II 70 
Balkan disorder, II 74 



Balzac, I 306, 307 II 138 

Bang, Hermann, I 177 II 336, 356 

Basel, II 208, 239 

Bashkirtseff, Maria, I 54, 281 

Bastien-Lepage, I 281 

Baudelaire, I 108, 314, 315 II 35, 270, 


Bavarian republic, II 181 
Bavarian temperaments, II 180 
beauty, I 82, 118, 193, 240 II 197, 202, 

Becker, Paula (Modersohn), I 210, 

267, 280, 334 II 329, 356 
Beer-Hofmann, II 84, 305 
Beethoven, I 171, 331, 352 II 134, 241 
being, II 144, 304, 353, 374 
Belgian coast, I 227 
Belgium, I 271 
belief, II 276-77 
Belvedere, II 28 
Bergson, II 115 
Berlin, I 77, 185, 225, 228, 361, 364 II 

28, 126, 142 

Bern, II 198